Gas - feedtime (In The Red)
feedtime have come together to release their first album since 1996’s "Billy". A lot has happened in the last 21 years, so what can we expect from the original lineup of Rick, Al and Tom who have been playing sporadically since reforming in 2011?
It starts off well. “Any good thing” opens with a fantastic, sliding bass line before kicking off with pounding drums and a frenetically distorted guitar. My first thought when hearing Rick’s vocals was that of GG Allin’s voice towards the end of his life. The gravel has turned into a metallic growl.
And the pace continues well into “Thought”, before slowing down into "Box n Burn". Both strong tracks with a powerful sound. However, the issues start to arise with "Skilled Enuf". While the musicianship on the track is strong, the writing is quite simple and unengaging, “Skilled enough, to play one chord. Skilled enough to play one note” might be a true description of the band’s minimalist arrangements, but it is unengaging.
The original feedtime albums have a brutally dark lyricism with strong emotive content. Listening through this album I struggle to find that. “Hopeful Blues” Starts off with an astounding slide line, but is immediately put off by a bass line in the wrong key and stumbling along painfully. Despite the clash between the guitar and bass, the song has some real weight to it. Rick belts out impassioned lyrics that harken back to the feedtime we know and love. However it takes a long time to start and once you find yourself drawn into it, the song ends too soon.
Listening to “Skilled Enuf” and “Hopeful Blues” highlights the primary issues with the album. On many of the tracks here there is either strong playing or powerful emotive content. Only on a few tracks are both heard. “Gutter Roll” helps to bring some balance back into the album, with some strong instrumentation and lyrics that are skilled enuf (heh) for the album. Unfortunately it starts going downhill again.
“You Don’t Mind” is a painful song to listen to. The guitar and bass just plod along mindlessly to a simple drumbeat, and the lyrics are completely uninspiring:
“One two, we’re all through. Three Four, I’m at the door.”
The song has a great chorus “You don’t mind, and I don’t matter”, but it’s outweighed by the soulless harmonica that follows. I cannot listen to this song anymore. I skip it immediately.
Thank God for “Fifty Eight”, with a killer bassline and a pulsing drumbeat. Rick really delivers an impassioned vocal here. It’s unfortunately one of the shortest songs on the album, but delivers a tonne in the space of 1min50sec and really puts some life back into the record. “Sister” retains the brutal power delivered in “Fifty Eight”, but Allen’s vocals don’t have quite the same effect that Rick’s does. I much prefer Allen using a nervous vocal style to compliment Rick’s brutal growl.
Unfortunately, feedtime stumble once again with “Grass”. The bass-line starts off sounding very similar to “You Don’t Mind”, but the percussion and guitar give it a solid drive. However, the lyrics once again are uninspiring. “The grass is greener on the other side”, and “What you see you don’t always get” just aren’t interesting lyrics. This continues into “Lies”, with phrases repeated continuously that have no meaning and do not tell a story.
The last three tracks help to balance out the more disappointing songs. “Keep Goin” and “Highway Cruisin” are good songs. “Keep Goin” in particular has got a catchy chorus hook. “Shovelhead” is the last track, and it is killer. This is the feedtime we know and love, simple and powerful. Talking about their love of riding motorcycles.
At the end of “Shovelhead”, you hear one of the members (presumably Allen) saying: “Does that work?” Having listened to this album repeatedly in the past week since receiving it, I keep asking myself that. It is not a perfect album by any means, but it works. It’s got its fair share of average songs, and two that are painful. Songs like “Fifty Eight”, “Shovelhead” and “Any Good Thing” are killer compositions that make me hopeful for the future of the band.
I dearly hope that I can see them perform soon, because that is where they thrive. These new songs would be fascinating to see performed live, and hopefully seeing them in person might be able to change my opinion on some of the less favourable compositions on the album. feedtime remains one of my favourite bands, but I doubt I will listen through this album any time soon again. Hear the album and make up your own mind, but don’t miss any opportunities to see them live.