One of the wonderful things about writing music reviews is that every once in a while there will be a total surprise. Last year I received a disc from a band called Fools On Sunday, a band fronted by a 13-year-old. While that might normally sound like a gimmick, in this case it wasn't. It was a good album. I actually dug the band.
This year that singer, Evan Seligman (now fourteen), has released a solo EP, Fidelitorium 7-11 Recordings. In fact, he plays all the instruments with the exception of bass on two tracks (the bass being performed by his father, Marc Seligman also of Fools On Sunday). Evan also wrote five of the six songs (the obvious exception being "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker").
This is a talented kid. But you'll forget about his age when listening, because the songs are good. Of course, rock has always been performed by teenagers. George Harrison was fourteen when he joined The Beatles (though at that time they were still a skiffle group, and not yet known as The Beatles).
The EP opens with "Sugar Free," which begins simply, with a repeated rhythm and guitar part. It soon attaches itself to you (in a good way) and feels like a pretty mood piece. Seriously, it could have just continued like that for a long time, and I would have been happy. And then approximately a minute and forty-five seconds in the vocals come in, the first lines being "I guess I should have been more prepared/But oh well, I'm doing the best that I can."
It's kind of a wonderful opening for an album. A great jumping off point. This song is simple, but effective, and it builds in power toward the end, a steady thumping on the snare leading into an excellent joyous sustained energetic section. This is probably my favorite track on this EP.
"Sheena Is A Punk Rocker"
The only cover on this EP is "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker," the famous Ramones song. This is an interesting acoustic version, with hand claps. It's a cool cover, but it is in this song that Evan's young age is most noticeable in the vocal performance.
When Fools On Sunday formed in 2009, they began by covering punk songs (before turning to original material), so the inclusion of a Ramones song on this EP isn't a total surprise.
"Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" was first included on The Ramones album Rocket To Russia (1977), and was also released as a single. Rancid and Husker Du have also covered this song.
"Ominus Crunch" is a heavier song. This one is a bit repetitive, but lacks some of the charm of the first track (not that charm was necessarily intended).
By the way, there is a heavy metal band called "Ominus," also from the same area of New York.
"Going Nowhere" is a much brighter-sounding song, right from its opening. It has a definite pop rock bent, and it totally works.
Marc Seligman plays bass on "Ominus Crunch" and "Going Nowhere."
The final track, "Doubt," is a wonderful song. After a short sweet intro, it comes on strong and glorious. The opening lines of this song are "Now the time has come/I can only hope I won/In the end it never counts/But then I have my doubts." There is something joyous in the music - in its exuberance - and it's that power that makes the song's quieter moments all the more effective and wonderful. "Doubt" and "Sugar Free" are the strongest tracks on this EP, and they work well as bookends.
CD Track List
- Sugar Free
- Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
- Ominus Crunch
- Going Nowhere