I didn’t know anything about Fist City before I listened to this album. However, judging by their band name I felt I was dealing with something abrasive and confrontational and I wasn’t wrong. Everything Is A Mess is the second album by this Southern Alberta band. Fist City are twins Kier and Brittany Griffiths, guitarist Evan Van Reekum and drummer Ryan Grieve. It was produced by Ben Greenberg and recorded in Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio in October 2014. The band’s influences are evident from first listen. Immediately, the album evokes the fuzz and chaos of Sonic Youth records and No Wave inspired alternative music in general. Everything Is A Mess is an abrasive punk rock record at it’s core with experimental elements.
Everything Is A Mess uses the fuzz pedal as catharsis. The impassioned and confrontational lyrics such as those in the track Fuck Cops are inspired by the band’s real life environments growing in Lithbridge and Calgary, Alberta. Although admittedly most of the lyrics are inaudible through the thick fuzz and thrashing drums, it is hard not to hear “you’re a racist pig” soaring through the storm. There is nothing disingenuous or posturing about the delivery of Fuck Cops. The band have delivered a strong and punchy punk song which is one of the stand outs of the album.
The melody on Let’s Rip is infectious and playful. Hey Little Sister is a single off the album which is also accompanied by a music video. Hey Little Sister (which is not like White Wedding or the Queens of The Stone Age track in any way) is strong single and a good representation of what the album has to offer. Everything Is A Mess is sort of an organised mess. It’s thrashing punk, it’s Dinosaur Jr/Sonic Youth fuzz with catchy melodies and chanting vocals. The album’s sound is definitely millennial hipster cool which is indebted to seventies punk and the distortion laden fuzz rock of the late eighties and early nineties. The album clocks in at 37 minutes which is pretty typical of a punk rock style record. I will say however, I am generally not a fan of interludes or intros which this album is full of. One could argue, they glue the tracks together as a single unit but one could also argue they add a bit of a filler element to the record. For me personally, they kind of took away from the experience and almost made me lose interest in the rest of the tracks.
Everything Is A Mess is indeed a messy record but who wants a tidy punk record? That wouldn’t be very punk at all and I wouldn’t have that any other way. After spending a few days with this album, I appreciate it for it’s passion and it’s authenticity. Fist City are a band with plenty to offer lyrically. I salute any contemporary band that adds some useful social commentary to their record. If the album lost the interludes and took the musical experimentation even further, I would have given this a top rating but at it stands I’d give it a solid six or seven out of ten.
Everything Is A Mess was released in June 2015 off Transgressive Records. It is also available to stream on Spotify.