FM Bats, Everybody Out… Shark in the Water
The FM Bats pack in more action into their ten-minute EP, Everybody Out… Shark in the Water, than most bands pack into an entire album. Comprised of vocals, guitar, bass and drums, the FM Bats sound like a boiled-down, spastic Gang of Four (or maybe a less-bluesy JSBX) fronted by Jack White if he was singing while being strangled onstage. Or they would sound like that, if you could actually hear what they are doing — the album is definitely in the lower part of the lo-fi range.
Surprisingly, though, the lack of fidelity actually sharpens the performances and heightens the band’s energy. Which is important, considering that the FM Bats’ specialty is the rave-up. They focus this even more with the shortness of their songs — since the songs aren’t more than a minute long, nothing wears itself out. They use their instruments masterfully to build behind a vocal and make the music escalate. On “Sinking Ship of Adult Lips,” they use the same exact vocal melody the whole time, but the instruments all change almost continually, especially in a particularly dense section. This is followed by a more “open” section that the instruments are convinced is going to be a chorus, but the vocals refuse to give ground, and they battle it out for dominance ’til the end of the song.
They come up with some interesting riffs, as well — also important for this kind of sound. “Cat Brat’s Theme,” a hard, fast blast of a song, uses a very simple and cool repeated bass riff, which the guitar punctuates with an even more simple riff that is exquisitely placed to build tension with just the minimum number of chords. “All You Do Is Jerk” is the closest they get to an regular song, being that it’s the only song that contains something like a chorus or bridge. You can tell ’cause it’s their longest song, to boot, weighing in at a whopping 1:59. Relatively straightforward minor-key riffing backs tom-heavy drums and the most varied melody here, which leads into a section with an actual second melody! Of such things are pop songs made….
All in all, an interesting and worthwhile effort. I can only imagine what these guys will sound like when they start writing real songs!