Fever Moon – The Long Chains Of Love – Album Review
Man. And I thought I had it good with the last Fever Moon record!
Sometimes you just get that feeling, you know? You listen to a song like “Holiday Hill” that starts up The Long Chains Of Love, and it’s like your whole soul understands that you’re gonna be in for something undeniably special. No joke folks – it was only last week when I was checking out this band for the very first time with a whole different record called Keepers Park, and I felt like the band was right on the money in a raw way that appealed to my ears perfectly…but then I put on this album, and “Holiday Hill” started up, and I feel like Fever Moon just went and exceeded every one of my wildest hopes and expectations in one beautiful acoustic shot straight outta the gate! What an EXTRAORDINARY tune! To say that “Holiday Hill” makes for a great opening track would put me solidly in the running for the total understatement of 2022…like I was saying, some moments in music defy description – and this first track is a perfect example of that…this is the magic of melody shining on display from every possible angle. At the end of the day, “Holiday Hill” ain’t overtly complex…and personally, I love that – this is the sound of making sure what’s been simplified is maximized by playing with real FEEL and heart within every note. I ain’t even remotely kidding y’all – I was immediately blown away by the graceful charm on The Long Chains Of Love. You gotta understand…Fever Moon was amps UP and rockin’ it only a week back as I was checking out Keepers Park…to hear how monumentally GORGEOUS this band can be in a more delicate atmosphere & vibe was completely a level beyond…surprising in the best possible way, you follow me? Because it ain’t like I wasn’t digging what I was hearing on Keepers Park – I loved the vast majority of that record, and if this was another go-around through that kind of style & sound, I’d have more than happily taken the ride all over again…but this…THIS…Jay Holmes, you’re a magician with your music good sir. Everything about “Holiday Hill” is executed to perfection, and this song has everything it could ever need. It’s all about serving the song and what it calls for…Jay & his bandmates were listening – this is 4:37 that I could never get enough of…I’d have taken an entire hour of this song if they offered.
Honestly, someone out there is gonna choose that track as their wedding dance song one day, mark my words…that’s the level of beauty we’re talkin’ about…and if that person is YOU, then high five from ME.
So…nowhere to go but down, right? Look…you can blame me if you wanna, but the facts are right there in the grooves of this record, man – Fever Moon stumbled straight into one of the best songs you’re gonna hear in 2022, or maybe EVER…and to think they could follow up something so special and rare with a song of the same caliber would be a massively tall ask. Superhuman really. I’ll take the band holding their own y’all, thank you very much…I was just looking for “White Sand” to come out strong, which it did, so I’m more than happy with that. It’s a good tune overall – I felt like the backing vocals really contributed to that, and also the bass-lines you’ll find in this tune too…there’s a solid core of real rhythm & groove that gives this track the fluidity it has, and the main hook of the chorus definitely connects. “White Sand” does prove that Fever Moon can hold their own under extraordinary circumstances…the real truth is that this song has one of the hardest spots to fill on an album in the freakin’ history of music y’all. There are a lot of guests on this record…most of them listed in the credits – I might have missed who’s doing the backing vocals on this track somewhere in there, but that’s definitely what gave this cut the extra layer of enticing sound. Jay’s also written a stellar transition from verse to chorus too, where you can feel the hook really snap together & give you that special somethin.’
While there’s still a hint of the grittiness of Jay’s vocals that I loved from Keepers Park, he’s wisely traded that gruffness in for more of a whispered tone to smooth out these acoustic-based tunes. You can hear him spark up at points along the way through the set-list of The Long Chains Of Love, and “Candy Fight” is a great example to cite where you can hear his energy come alive & no longer be contained. I would be willing to bet that, because of that very gruffness I was talkin’ about in the tonal qualities of Jay’s voice, his words would often be overlooked…but the man really puts a lot of heart & poetry into what he does. As to whether or not he’ll admit that to ya, or if I’m damaging his street-cred here, I do not know – all I know is that you don’t come up with songs like “Candy Fight” without having a gift of some sort when it comes to the pen & the words, ya feel me? I feel like this track will have no problem sellin’ itself to ya once you have a listen to it…”Candy Fight” is a quaint rocker…welcoming, inviting, and gentle – but still energetic too, know what I mean? I’m gonna be as real with Fever Moon as I am with everyone else out there that I listen to and comment on…they’ve out-written themselves from verse to chorus here, so it’s a bit like the hooks are in the opposite spots most people likely expect to find them. But you long-term readers of these pages know what I’d say to that…as long as you have hooks SOMEWHERE in a song, you’re not only lucky to have found them to begin with, but no matter where they occur, you give that tune a chance at reaching its audience. I like the chorus enough…I’m not sayin’ that it’s like, a chasm of difference here necessarily…I’m just saying the main accessibility is in the verse.
Where Jay’s still got room to evolve as a singer/songwriter/performer…is simply to recognize those moments where the melody ain’t comin’ out like he wants it to, and to just get that pen out for a rewrite. Nothing complicated…usually he’s only an inch away from where he should WANT to be in terms of his tone…but if he’s taken track after track and it’s still not getting there, that’s the audible cue to get back under the hood and make some mechanical changes. Of course, it really does depend on what he wants to do…I can take the occasional flat note from the vocals, and heck, a lot of the time it can be one of those real endearing moments in that College-Rock type of way too…but I’m not the masses. I’ll put it to ya this way – there’s so much going right on a track like “Judgement Day,” that to accept anything less than the high standards set in the most magical moments of this tune, threatens to tarnish it by comparison – make sense? That’s the kind of shit that other reviewers aren’t gonna tell ya btw…I’m just the guy with the stones (or stupidity) it takes to call things like I hear’em. For real though, there’s a whole lot of significant highlights in “Judgement Day” that would benefit from a smoother outcome overall…and that’s all I’m saying. Lean towards whatever the main strengths of a song are – in this case, it’s the melody…it takes a moment or two to get there…where Jay sings “But I’m fading…Into that grey misty haze that’s waiting…” – that’s a hook we can all hear…pretty much perfectly audible awesomeness in my opinion – so build around THAT! I don’t need to be the one to tell Jay where things are really going right in that regard you see? He would know every bit as much as we do what’s giving him trouble and what’s not…my advice is to simply not bang the square peg through the round hole is all – when things are right, you feel it, you hear it, you know it…in my opinion, don’t settle for anything less. To be fair to the man though, I’ve seen Fever Moon advertised as Social Distortion meets The Cure – I like Social Distortion & I LOVE The Cure…and BOTH of their catalogs are chockfull of flat fucking notes too. So what do I know anyhow? Last I checked, both of those bands have sold at least a few records.
On a musical level, “Faith In You” is freakin’ spectacular – like, without a doubt, some of my favorite instrumentation found in any corner of this record. As to whether or not Fever Moon fully capitalizes on this particular moment…that might be harder to say. Fun side-note…if you’re listening to some of the strummin’ at the core of this song guitar-wise, you might actually find a few similarities to “Throwing Things” by Superchunk, which is one of the bands that uber-producer Matthew Barnhart has been lending his time & talents to throughout the years, and has served that same role at the helm of both Keepers Park and The Long Chains Of Love from Fever Moon. Anyhow. It’s just flashes of a comparison – the songs are ultimately quite different from each other, especially when you consider all the surrounding musicianship on “Faith In You.” It’s quite the gem all-in-all when we’re talking about the music. Vocally, it’s got a few moments here & there…I don’t know so much that I’d be the guy to tell ya nothing is working here…it works – I think what I’m personally wondering is whether or not it’s going to be memorable enough in that regard, or whether “Faith In You” might have actually been stronger as an instrumental in this scenario. I like the main hook that the title provides…and I even have moments where I feel like most everything is a really solid fit…but yeah…there was also something about this track that seemed like the all-instrumental route might have been to the best benefit of the song, no disrespect to Jay. The dude knows I like what he does, so I ain’t worried about that. I just serve as the guy from the random ether of the internet that’ll tell ya how he really feels…and my gut tells me this might be one of those situations where, if you’re not completely 100% sure that you’re adding something significant, you could potentially be taking something away – make sense? “Faith In You” is hypnotic and beautifully mesmerizing at its core…and it’s the music that makes it that way…as for the vocals here…it does add a dimension to the song, I’m just not entirely sure that makes it stronger is all. Word on the street is that Jay’s friend Joas Cardoso brought in an ELEVEN PAGE score for the strings you’ll hear, which is pretty much why this cut sounds extra gorgeous to ya.
Let’s be real though – Jay’s an acquired taste on a tonal level, and I’m sure he knows that more than anyone else. When he gets it right, like you hear at the start of The Long Chains Of Love, the man REALLY gets it right…like…knocks it straight outta the park into next YEAR type-good, you feel me? The dude’s a heck of a songwriter when it comes right down to it, and he’s got his defined thing goin’ on – like it, love it, or leave it, regardless of what any of us think, there’s a ton of identity in his voice & style, and that’s completely priceless when it comes to the art of making music. He’s got perspective, and I’d be the first to tell ya he knows exactly the kind of sound he’s going for. You walk a very fine line in the kind of style he’s rockin’ with though…at least in the ears of the masses…it’s tougher for them to get their heads around, whereas all us Indie/College-Rock and Alternative punkasses are pretty much bound to love the majority of what this man creates for the raw electricity he surges with in Fever Moon’s music. “Chances” is an apt title with regards to all I’ve pointed out & said. Personally, I love it – and I’d readily tell ya that Jay’s vocals are spot-on for where he wants to go with this melody and what he wants it to sound like. Does that make it any more palatable for the masses out there? Honestly, probably not – but fuck’em! Stay true to who you are and what you do, and let the chips fall as they may I say. I always think of one of my favorite singers out of Australia…a guy named Paul Dempsey who sings for the band Something For Kate in addition to his solo tunes when I think of singers doin’ their own thing. Every time I’ve played his music for my friends, most of’em make that face of disapproval half the time – and yet, over in Australia, the dude’s a freakin’ hero, and plays to packed stadiums every second night. Identity matters more than anything else, in my opinion. No one’s ever going to please everyone all of the time anyway, so do YOU, and be happy with that. I’d put “Chances” right up there with some of the best cuts by Fever Moon that I’ve heard to-date – I really dig this track, and it’s significantly ambitious. There’s no doubt that Jay’s written a BIG tune here…”Chances” clocks in at just shy of seven minutes in length…but this is the way to use the extra space y’all; his songwriting builds this track second by second as it plays on, and by the time you reach the finale, you really get that payload you were looking to find. I felt like it was around the 2:35 mark…that was the moment I knew this track was going to be even more special than the beginning of it reveals to ya – Fever Moon plays this cut in a really low-key energy and acoustic vibe to start, and “Chances” works its magic on ya slowly. Then you get to that spot around the 3:40 mark, and you’re like, holy fuck – this is actually going to be some seriously EPIC shit, and the guitar melody comes shining through the gritty distortion in the most perfect of ways. Add in the thick of the drums about a minute later as “Chances” expands to full strength, and you can’t help but seriously feel this moment come alive as Fever Moon gives you a dose of their most unified vibes. It’s really something to witness all said & done – Jay’s written a remarkable journey into this track for sure; structurally, it’s bulletproof. They’ve executed his ambitious songwriting to true roiling indie perfection.
And then there’s “Heavens Hole,” one of those bittersweet anthems that’s endearing in the kind of…
…wait a minute…did he just say he’s “gonna take my balls and smash them right into the circuits?” Bro! BOTH balls? Maybe save one for the next party? I’m just saying…a dude can still accomplish a lot with one nut, if necessary. Honestly, that’s brilliantly VIVID, and yet I still can’t quite picture it either. Like, I’m picturing Jay ramming his testicles straight into like…oh whaddya call those things…the electrical panel in your home I suppose. I’m fairly convinced he’s looking to smash his balls into something a bit different than what I’m picturing, but still, it’s fun to play around with the imagery in your mind, ain’t it? “The world’s stickin’ those pins right where it hurts,” you say Jay? I mean…perhaps it IS…but you’re still the dude rubbin’ his junk up against the electricals, aren’t ya? I can’t imagine that feels much better than the pins would my man, I’m just sayin.’ I’m also clearly way too immature to ever be considered a professional, no matter how many of these reviews I write. The moment you mention someone’s balls, I’m off on a tangent and it takes me forever to get back on track. This worked out really well though, all jokes aside – “Heavens Hole” would actually make a really good candidate to be the single from this record – the energy is great, the beat is tight, the lyricism is unique, the vocals are solid, and poor Jay’s balls…well…they’re probably savagely RED by this point if this song is somewhat based on true events. It’s oddly danceable though…kind of like what you’d imagine a John Mellancamp track would be like if it was covered by Social Distortion…that hint of organ in the atmosphere was the perfect complement to this track, and really brings out a truly spectacular dimension of celebratory sound to “Heavens Hole.”
Coming to a Kevin Smith movie near you…or at least, it should be. Fever Moon should honestly hit that dude up – every soundtrack he’s ever released to accompany his films has proven time & time again he loves this kind of music. From Archers Of Loaf, to Bad Religion, to Seaweed, and all kinds of other classic examples of kickass tunes…Smith’s got a real penchant for the kind of sound Fever Moon is rockin’ with – and being the highly accessible personality that he is…I dunno…it might just be the right way to go about getting this band some of the recognition they truly deserve. There’s a whole lot of uniqueness in what they do overall – like…listen to how a song like “Carousel” changes and morphs as it plays will ya? It’s a perfect example of how what Fever Moon creates often exceeds expectations by choosing a much different path than what you’d think. LISTEN to the way they switch horses midstream…or like…one-third-stream around the 1:10 mark, you get the idea – that’s an outstanding decision. As it begins, it’s almost kind of like a Dinosaur Jr.-esque answer to something like “Boys Don’t Cry” by The Cure, which in itself is a weird thing to say given that the band actually covered that tune on a compilation record out there somewhere at some point…but yeah…you hear what I mean with that familiar jangle of the guitars & whatnot. Fever Moon has that real nostalgic advantage of reminding us of so much about what we loved in the 90s without being too much of any of’em. “Carousel” is probably going to have a bit of an uphill battle in pursuit of becoming anyone’s favorite cut on the record I’d say…but there are several points of pure magic threaded into the melody of this song as well that can’t be denied for their allure. This particular cut, is actually a cover of the band Malignus Youth, so that 90s aspect of Fever Moon’s sound makes even more sense this time around with the original song dating back to 1992’s More To It.
I found myself probably appreciating the sentiment of “Hardcore Kid” even more-so than I liked the sound of the song I suppose…I mean…I practically AM the dude at the center of this cut in so many ways thematically. I think once you get to that point where you’re grey-bearded and older than dirt like I am now, and you look around at concerts you’re attending, wondering where in the all-fuck the people you used to think were cool have gone and why they aren’t still there in the front row like you are, you really appreciate the perspective a track like this one has. “I guess I still grew up to be a Hardcore Kid” is a hook that resonates with an old dude like me now…I didn’t go the family route…I didn’t spawn…I chose to BE the freakin’ kid for the rest of my life, embrace my Peter Pan syndrome, and never grow the fuck up. “All my friends are dead and gone, buried by the past, seems like I’m the only one still having a blast” – Jay’s done an exceptional job of detailing that bizarre point in life where you get to if you’re lucky to live long enough, where everything just seems weird, foreign, and strange compared to what you thought life was really going to be, you know? I wrestle with this stuff daily kiddos, so take it from an old guy. With so much in common with the central characters of this cut, it was hard to resist and not let it grow on me the more I continued to spin The Long Chains Of Love…it’s extremely well written & completely vivid to those of us who have spent their lives in the trenches of the scene & continue to.
While I wouldn’t say that “Dust On The Bone” quite reaches that same spectacular level of beauty that the album starts out with, it’s pretty damn close, and makes for a great ending to this record of two released by Fever Moon this month. Jay Holmes (Vocals, Guitar), David Pallash (Bass), Scott Lupton (Drums), Nick Bello (Bass), Darryl Baker (Drums) – these all-stars have really put a lot of heart & soul into these tunes, and were careful not to overplay any element in effort to preserve the realness that Jay’s written into these tunes. You’ve got sensational guest-star appearances from the likes of Valient Himself (Vocals with Jay on “Hardcore Kid), Pockets Ov (Vocals with Jay on “White Sand), Tony Assimos (Bass on “Carousel), and Joas Cardoso with what’s been essential contributions on the cello & violin throughout both Keepers Park and The Long Chains Of Love. Not only is Joas responsible for a massive part of the reason the music of “Faith In You” came out so incredibly well early on, but he’s really what’s brought an exceptionally beautiful dimension to the natural grittiness of Holmes that has balanced out what we hear brilliantly, just as you’ll find on this last track, “Dust On The Bone” as well. Like I was tellin’ ya earlier…when Fever Moon gets it right, they REALLY get it right, you dig? “Dust On The Bone” is another perfect example of what that means…the kind of track that cuts to the quick of its dusty beauty, and shines with a stunning level of gorgeousness that’s equally heartbreaking too…desolate but never too despairing…hopeful, and not hopeless – you follow me? It’s moments like “Dust On The Bone” that become essential to the soundtrack of our own lives…and the perfect way to describe what we’re feeling when we can’t find the words we need…a feeling that represents who we are somehow, in ways that talking things out never could…the kind of song we point to, and say, ‘that’s how I feel inside – do you understand?’ “Dust On The Bone” is the kind of epic delicate song that’ll knock you right over when you really pay full attention to it, making for a completely memorable, truly special finale to this record.
I’ve had a phenomenal time listening to Fever Moon this month – I’d listen to anything by this band.
Find out more about Fever Moon from their official pages below!
Bifocal Media: https://bifocalmedia.com
Unus Mundus: https://www.unusmundusum.com
Find out what we do at sleepingbagstudios, and be the next to be featured on our pages by clicking here!