Number 2: Fang Island – “Daisy”

Look, there’s a ton of music out there. I’m no artist, but that’s why it’s got to be hard to make something that doesn’t sound like everything else. No more quickly is a publicist hyping a new song by a fresh-faced band than do a zillion critics and critic wannabes groupthinkingly and/or accurately dismiss it as sounding like an inferior version of some other band.

So occassionally there’s a band that isn’t quite a straight line to its most obvious influences, and thus requires the Overwrought Music Critic’s Annoyingly Extensive And Contrived Metaphor That Music Critics Like To Use And Think Are Clever for an adequate comparison.

Let me try one for Fang Island.

It’s like Andrew W.K. and Joe Satriani defied nature/applicable state laws and had a baby. Then Thin Lizzy stole the baby out of the hospital, and sold it on the open market. The child was rescued by the state, and adopted by the members of Ratatat. Only Fang Island is a four-piece, so this happened four separate distinct times…and the metaphor kind of breaks down here. And I’m done.

I guess a point I’m trying to make is that Fang Island is likeably familiar, yet escapes a firm and forceable genre pigeonholing no matter how hard you try. Prog and metal fans are sure to dig the technical, harmonized dual-lead guitar riffs, and that’s why they’ve opened for Coheed & Cambria out there a few times. But indie rock fans will dig the experimental aesthetics, while punk fans will like the almost monotonous driving energy and verve.

“Daisy” features an electro-organ intro and underlying riffs, fast, aggressive drumming and guitars and despite having no discernible lyrics, a distinct sense that you should be singing along. It packs so much in, it definitely feels like it should be longer than the album-length four minutes. Think of it as one continuous cartoon-rock music climax. Fang Island’s press materials described the band as sounding like “everyone high-fiving everyone” (a phrase the press latched onto), and “Daisy” encapsulates that vibe perfectly.

Rarely has a band put out a song that is so undefinable, and still so unpretentious as Fang Island did with “Daisy” in 2010. It just sounds like they’re enjoying themselves. One doesn’t have to spend much time with the music video for “Daisy” to surmise that Fang Island may have met in art school: the Rhode Island School of Design, to be exact. That’s the same educational institution that gave rise to the Talking Heads in the 1970s, another useful touchstone to get an idea to a new listener about what these guys are doing.

The modern age has given us a whole hell of a lot to be cynical about, so why can’t our music be fun, Fang Island seems to ask. Must we argue?

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