- Fossa, Bones
Some people put a lot of faith in astrology. I'm not knocking it, just observing that it isn't uncommon for people to tell me about Mercury in retrograde or make a remark such as "You're such a Gemini" after I order a beer I forgot that I hated. My understanding of astrology is (clearly) limited. But I remember an old guy with a huge, white beard once telling me that to be a Gemini is to not know who or what you really want to be, ever. He was a transpersonal psychology professor, but he doubled as a traveling magician, so of course I fucking listened.
Fossa are musical Gemini in all the ways that might apply under my wizard friend's definition: They have no idea what they want to be. After a few listens through the Burlington band's debut EP Bones, well, I had some questions. Not in relation to the quality of the band — Fossa are a dynamic, chameleon-like trio with chops for days. I just couldn't get a handle on what Fossa is.
Throughout the EP, the band bobs and weaves stylistically. The title track is split into two parts, the record's prologue and epilogue. "Bones I" comes in with a folk intro, as guitarist Tommy Ott's acoustic work underscores vocalist and drummer Alex Wuestneck's yearning melody. Within a few minutes bassist Matthew Bradshaw and the drums come in for a full-on blues-rock jam.
"Heart Gone Black" is one of the few tracks that retain traces of the trio's more jam-band-centric live nature. Ott takes the lead vocal and rips some hot-fire solos as the band moves through a Nectar's-friendly sort of groove. I've never warmed to Burlington's jam scene, but if it's going to produce bands like Fossa, I may have to rethink my stance.
That being said, Fossa seem to wear genres as costumes. Like a cat letting you pet it one moment before it sinks its claws into you, the band will come out of a hazy jam into stomping garage rock, embracing the raw side of being a trio.
"Sweet" moves into a '90s stoner alternative rock, somewhere between Pavement and King Missile. On first listen, I was shook by how out of place the song seemed on the EP, then started wishing all the tracks were in the same vein. But I was missing the point of the record.
The cross-genre thing isn't just in my head. In the YouTube description for one of their videos, Fossa are described as an "emo folk funk rock power trio," for fuck's sake. Ordinarily I would absolutely rip a band apart for a description like that. It'd literally be my first shot.
But by the end of Bones, I had to admit that the characterization fits. Fossa are all over the place. Yet, rather than scattershot, the approach feels weirdly appropriate, a canny beast that won't be cornered. Maybe they don't know who they want to be, but maybe that doesn't matter.
Download Bones at fossaband.bandcamp.com. Fossa celebrate the album's release on Friday, September 13, at Orlando's Bar and Lounge in Burlington.