A Small Price to Pay (Suburban Home)
by Scott Hefflon
Much as I hate to admit it, the blurb on the website says it best: “It is only a matter of time before Chris Fogal is recognized as one of the top songwriters in pop, but before that happens, just be happy knowing that you found out before everyone else.”
Sure, every shitty little band’s bio makes such claims, saying their band is the love child of The Beatles, Elvis Costello, and The Beach Boys, when really they were the accidental offspring of middle-class, unimaginative parents who fought wars and busted their stoic asses in stifling work environments so their whining little kids had a free country to complain about and tour and fall in puppy love in and write about in yet more insipid songs about Life, the Universe, and Everything that’s completely obvious but sounds nice when sung sweetly over a snappy beat.
But The Gamits, as I may’ve hinted at somewhere along the line, are different. My last review compared them to Randy as unheralded songsmiths you just gotta check out, and look where Randy is now! In seven mere songs, this EP’ll remind you of what you liked so much about Green Day (that’s not a dig at the Day, they just got kinda weighty and thoughtful, and ya just can’t try to knock out a jumpy, off-the-cuff ditty, ya know?), and the magic that Randy nailed on You Can’t Keep a Good Band Down (on G-7, now distributed by Hopeless cuz they’re savvy!). Call it peppy pop or punkpop or melodic-laden whoa-whoa punk or whatever, just get it, groove on it, and realize that a lot of bands still have a lot to learn about writing a dynamic tune. Your head bops from side to side, you drum on flat surfaces as verse leads to chorus, and you arch an eyebrow at the harmonies cuz, say…, those aren’t the same identical harmonies every band with a touch of melodic know-how uses… That’s right kids, while the differences are subtle, there’s that kinda “Ooooh” tingle as a rhythm or melody takes an unexpected turn, and when you’ve listened to every punk record that’s come out in the last eight years to determine who’s gonna review what, if you still get that tingle, the band’s pretty exceptional, understand?
If ya haven’t gotten it yet, allow me to hit ya over the head with one final this-shouldn’t-be-such-a-rarity: Range. That “huh?” twist I mentioned is partly songcraft, but being able to hit a wide range of notes, suddenly skipping up the scale simply to break up the repetition of the well-written main melody, well, that’s something to behold. As I say, it shouldn’t be such a point of interest, but it’s kind of amazing how many “singers” simply harp on the same notes as the guitar, and that many of them actually can pull it off to some decent results. But that all changes when you hear a “freeform cascade,” a little smug spiral you’ll attempt again and again before realizing that ya just can’t sing it – and ya sure wouldn’t’ve thought to write it. Oh yeah, these guys’ll humble ya…
(PO Box 40757 Denver, CO 80204)