Abandon Earth! I have never heard of Five Alarm Funk before this album. Upon listening to the first track, “We All Scream”, I put on a new pair of pants and proceeded to listen (and re-re-re-re-relisten) to the rest of the album. It’s like someone took the best and most interesting parts of Gogol Bordello (i.e. musicianship, integrity, slavic influences/lack of ####’s), and Insane Clown Posse’s aesthetic penchant for clowns and circus music (as heard in “We All Scream” and “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth”). However, for every cultural setback found in ICP’s lack of quality, integrity, or reasons to be permitted to breed, Abandon Earth compensates a thousand fold and restores my personal faith for the future of music.
Five Alarm Funk is a nine-piece band from Vancouver; their style is a combination of the musical maturity of jazz, a punk attitude and an energy level rivaling progressive death-metal. The ten-track concept album Abandon Earth is consistent in the speed of its delivery, while completely dropping the standard verse/chorus/bridge formula. Instead the story is told through a complete excess of trumpet, saxophone and trombone segments over some funky bass lines (see: “Prest-O Chang-O”). These instruments and segments are the best point of the album. The fact that there are also conga drums, regular drums, timbales and two guitarists seems almost forgettable by comparison. To be clear, this statement is meant to speak more to the quality of the brass section’s ability to successfully to create a dominant presence, rather than a poor performance out of any band members.
An example of the overall ridiculousness that all the members seem to project is the track “Robot”. It is an excellent example of why it is completely appropriate to put a sweeping section on electric guitar alongside conga drums, and it could not be pulled off without virtuoso musicianship. It is rare to find such talent and cooperation in members to write non-repetitive songs with so many instruments. This is the type of album that makes a filthy plebeian such as I wish they knew more about music theory so as to fully enjoy the album.
Now that the technical worship is out of the way, I would like to discuss the little sprinkles of lyrics and vocal delivery. It is stupidly fun in a folksypunk, raspy screaming sort of way. I was actually convinced that Gogol Bordello’s Eugene Hütz was doing guest vocals on “ATTAAACK!!” & “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth”. Unless you are dead or sold your humanity to Satan, you WILL find yourself fist pumping and screaming the pulpy, childish lyrics–“HIP, HIP,WHO AH/HERE COMES THE ICE CREAM MAN…WE ARE THE ICE CREAM MAN!, WE ARE THE ICE CREAM MAN!, WE ARE THE ICE CREAM MAN!”–while doing a ridiculous dance to an excessively excellent brass solo.
The band’s website says the ‘concept’ of the album is “to tell the tale of a technological behemoth rising from the center of the Earth and unleashing a torrent of natural disasters and monsters on humanity”. While the symbolism is still above me after umpteenth listen, the ridiculous nature of this statement is a perfect representation of this album. All of the songs are amazing, but if I was forced to choose just three, I would pick “ATTAAACK!!”, “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth”, and “Prest-O Chang-O”.
For clarity’s sake, I would like to list the different personalities amongst our readers that owe it to themselves to check out this album. Check out Abandon Earth on June 10 if:
i) You are into funk/jazz/pursuing music in academia.
ii) You are an elitist snob that only listens to ‘real music’.
iii) You don’t understand half the things in this article, but listen to the radio.
iv) You are currently peaking on psychedelics and your filthy basement has transformed into the Dark Carnival.
Five Alarm Funk’s Abandon Earth Album Release Tour:
|06.07.2014||Vancouver, British Columbia||The Commodore Ballroom|
|06.20.2014||Kelowna, British Columbia||Sapphire|
|06.21-22.2014||Driftpile, Alberta||North Country Fair|
|06.23.2014||Lethbridge, Alberta||The Slice|
|06.24.2014||Banff, Alberta||Wild Bill’s|
|06.25.2014||Calgary, Alberta||Dicken’s Pub|
|06.26.2014||Edmonton, Alberta||Pawn Shop|
|06.27.2014||Ottawa, Ontario||Ottawa Jazz Fest|
|06.28-29.2014||Saskatoon, Saskatchewan||Sask Jazz Fest|
|06.30.2014||Winnipeg, Manitoba||The Pyramid Cabaret|
|07.01.2014||Winnipeg, Manitoba||The Pyramid Cabaret|
|07.02.2014||Thunder Bay, Ontario||Crock’s|
|07.04.2014||Sarnia, Ontario||Paddy Flaherty’s|
|07.09.2014||Peterborough, Ontario||Red Dog Tavern|
|07.10.2014||Montreal, Quebec||Le Divan Orange|
|07.11.2014||Hamilton, Ontario||Club Absinthe|
|07.12.2014||Toronto, Ontario||Lee’s Palace|
|07.22.2014||Golden, British Columbia||Rockwater|
|07.23.2014||Red Deer, Alberta||Fratter’s|
|07.24.2014||Kamloops, British Columbia||Blue Grotto|
|07.25.2014||Victoria, British Columbia||Phillip’s Backyard Weekender|
|07.31.2014||Revelstoke, British Columbia||Traverse|
|08.01-03.2014||Penticton, British Columbia||Boonstock|
|08.10.2014||Darrington, Washington||Summer Meltdown Festival|
Check out Five Alarm Funk!
Author: Alex Slakva