(W.C. Field Recordings, CD)
Vermont's Fatal Flaws came together last August, when members Jason Wimbiscus and Chris Beneke met via a Seven Days classified. More recently Beneke appeared in these pages with a letter lambasting our attempt at comic-strip democracy. In it he suggested, among other things, stripping me of my post.
Not exactly ingratiating. But since I'm not one to hold a grudge, I gave his band's debut, Your First Mistake, a spin. Surprise! The 18-song disc is loaded with trenchant, no-fi rock 'n' roll that had me hooked from the start.
Opener "Batgirl On!" is crude garage rock with a cartoon-noir twist. An elementary backbeat anchors the tempo, as scrappy guitars shore up Beneke's deadpan vocals. Recorded live at rehearsal, its shoddy recording quality only enhances the tune's troglodyte vibe.
Fifties throwback "5 Minutes" sounds like a sock hop for the criminally insane. It's part punk scorcher, part ballad; with a little more speed and distortion, it'd be a Misfits tune. "Room Temperature" is a sluggishly antagonistic number about the joys of warm beer. Somewhere, Homer Simpson smiles dumbly.
The curiously catchy hook of "Crippled Man" sounds like The Yardbirds in a pub brawl, while the morbidly confessional "Cassie" is white-trash manna. "Nick Merill's dead / Shot in the head by Cassie's sister's lover / who did discover / love at seventeen," Beneke sweetly sings over downstrummed guitars and spare percussion. The song paints a bracing picture of romantic tragedy; it's Romeo and Juliet for the Jerry Springer set.
"Wanderin'" owes something to Beggar's Banquet-era Stones. Its watery slide guitar and broke-down blues progression plays like Brian Jones on a champagne-and-Quaalude bender. "Eat the Rock" lurches along slowly, its swaggering central riff supported by Sasha Rodriguez's charmingly inept drumming.
The delirious "Grandma's Gotta Popeye" is about an elderly woman with a badly damaged peeper. She apparently enjoys spitting in a can and taking long drives at midnight. The song's narrator strongly suggests avoiding her.
Album closer "I'm Your Jesus" is a brief little ditty that describes the pains of being the world's Savior. "I'm your Jesus, yes I am / You don't know the pain in Heaven / Amen," Beneke detachedly sings. Other complaints from the weary protagonist include his ever-present stigmata.
I'm planning to catch their Saturday, March 11, set at Radio Bean. Does this mean I can keep my job?