CD Review: Fatal Film - Thrill'r

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz
Fatal Film, after a long wait, has finally released their new full length album Thrill'r.  It's filled with mostly old Fatal Film classics as recorded by their latest lineup, Matt Potter (vox and guitar), Dave Freeburg (bass), Sebastian Coppotelli (guitar) and Mike Winslow (drums).

Though the songs are not brand new, the selection is diverse enough to always be interesting but still very cohesive as a record. There's a little punk and a little blues; a few mid tempo songs and a few up tempo songs; some clean tone and some dirty tone; like I said the song selection is great.  This record does give me a different vision of these songs than I previously had, hearing them live.

When I think Fatal Film I think very angular very sharp guitar, a rhythm section that is pummeling and vocals that give you a false sense of calm about the menacing music that's being played.  The production of this record seemed to smooth it all over without making it sound smooth. The guitars are very muddy for the most part and the drums are almost non-existent. The lack of attack in the sound made me see a pop-sensibility I never saw in Fatal Film but the lack of polish on the sound kind of shoots those sensibilities in the foot.

In sharp contrast to all that the vocal sound on this record is amazing. The play of different reverb and distortion on the vocals throughout the record gives them great intensity and makes them stand out.  Matt Potter's lyrics have always been very raw and up front and Thrill'r gives the vocals a sound that matches. There are a few other sonic tidbits that made me do a double take while listening to these familiar songs. The distorted drum roll leading into the closing of "All Our Cash" where the tambourine keeps time is a great way to bring the song to a big finish. They added keyboard on the album's opening track "Last Step" giving the song a really creepy atmosphere and depth. This was an unexpected move considering the stripped down straight ahead approach of this lineup. For me it paid off in spades. I didn't do a double take because I knew that the guitar nose dives at the end of "Sea Of Shitheads" would be coming but I was elated to hear them right up front where they should be and sounding meaner than hell.  The bass sound on this record is also pretty true to form.  It's dirty, it's extremely punchy, it leaves nothing to be desired.  With the guitar sound on this record however, the bass can sometimes get lost in the mix or be overpowering, it's a hard sound to pin down.

My vote for best song on the record is "Sick as a Dog". This was a little surprising because my favorite thing about Fatal Film was their ability to put out more energy and anger than any "genre punk" without ever pigeonholing themselves. However,  Thrill'r made me hear something subtle and interesting about this song that I'm extremely happy to have heard.

CD Review: The Liz Larsons - Talk Like A Male Artist

Review written by Adam Wujtewicz

The now defunct Liz Larsons, (except for 1 or 2 reunion shows),  just released their first post humus record Talk Like a Male Artist.  A title  that is intriguing if nothing else.  If you could cut this record open it would bleed hip-ness and confidence.  Lou Reed would have totally taken the Larson’s out on tour if this album came out around the same time as "Transformer".  

The songs are very well put together and much more interesting than their live show ever showed them to be.  Liz’s vocals are in a lower register than a lot of female vocalist -- they are incredibly strong and they have a charm that you cannot ignore.  Sebastian may be most complimentary guitar player NL has ever seen.  He has never played second fiddle to anyone but instead he has played alongside Liz Larson (The Liz Larsons), Phil Agins, (The Royale Bothers),  Matt Potter, (Fatal Film) and has pushed what they were doing to another level.  The guitars are almost completely panned which gives them enough separation so that you can tell them apart and appreciate what they do for each other.  This is just one thing that makes the production values for this album so good.  

The slight change ups in vocal sound in the song "Petty Clovers" and the snare drum that sounds like it was recorded in a deep cave as it washes across everything at the beginning of "He Digs Lacrosse" are 2 other great points of production on the record.  Talk Like a Male Artist has awesome pop sensibilities but also a great sense of self.  The songs are undeniably old school coffee house artist music, with the banjo and the obvious folk influence, but with such an ability to catch the ear of average listener with catchy melodies and well placed vocal breaks.  The bass and drums are not flashy but this also adds to the pop charm of the record and tight and concise rhythm section will drive and accent the songs rather than distract from them and keep people listening.  It also has all the speed of a pop album in that most of it is pretty mid tempo with a few slower ballads in there and couple sped up sections of songs.  

I must say that this record was a bit of a shocker for me.  I didn’t expect to enjoy it half as much as I did so allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised as well and check out Talk Like a Male Artist from The Liz Larsons.  Also, don’t stop listening to the CD until the bitter end, you’ll be glad you did.



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