Fenix TX: Cre.eping Out of the Past – Album Review
What is it about 2016 that has Fenix TX and other legendary punk bands putting out new material? Perhaps it is the current political climate in America, maybe it is the ice caps melting, or it could be that the message they have been spreading for years has finally become front page news?
Green Day has a new album out, with hit single “Bang” rocking up the charts, Blink 182 has a new record out, and song “Bored to Death” being played every hour on some stations, and most of Rage Against the Machine has been on tour as “Prophets of Rage”, playing venues across America in response to the current political environment, raging against the circus that American politics has become and the hordes of media outlets all too eager to sensationalize every last sound byte.
Fenix TX has rejoined after a few years of members working on other projects and living their respective personal lives and given us a new record titled Cre.ep. Not all of the material is new. While separated for all those years, they were still writing song lyrics, riffs, and beats independently of each other. Now they have come together with all their bits and pieces and composed an excellent body of work.
The album starts with a studio recording of a song released on a live album, “Spooky Action at a Distance.” The lyrics read like that of a stalker seeking out an ex-lover for their untimely demise, but is contradicted by a guitar-heavy happy sounding groove. Vocalist Will Salazar’s voice rings clear and crisp against the wall of guitar and peppy beat, as he hints at the scorned lover’s plans. Harmonies, with backing vocalist/ guitarist Chris Lewis, deceptively make the bitter words sound sweet, and easy to sing along to. Many people will find they can relate to the dark lyrics. It feels radio-ready, so this song might be the one them puts them there.
The second track, “Church and State” lends a voice against the dysfunctional state of the political scene facing our nation right now. This is more like the fist-in-the-air, we’re-not-gonna-take-it attitude one expects from good punk music. Something in common to be angry about, and a voice lending itself to expressing more fluently than most people can how they already feel. It’s what draws us to this genre and Fenix TX and this song is a perfect specimen.
The typical three-chord sound associated with punk is very noticeable. Fenix TX reminds the listener of classic acts like Black Flag or Dead Kennedys, and the expressed imagery of soldiers marching off to fight in war resembling ants who simply follow the chemical signals given them. It’s a great metaphorical tool used properly in this case to shed a light on the ignorance level of an alarming number of young folks who all too blindly follow those who are leading them without ever asking the right questions. “To where are we going? Why?”
This is what punk music was created for. The people who have that anti-authoritarian streak who cannot help but question the powers-that-be are given a voice. A voice that agrees with the thoughts we harbor in our minds. One that allows us to express our angst in a positive way, and unites us into a community. “Church and State” is an anthem to those ideals, and a damn good tune, to boot.
Following that is “Bending Over Backwards”, a fast-paced piece exploring a more personal story of anger and resentment. It is a tale with a warning for the implied abuser, set to a high tempo beat, and accompanied by a string section that is just as rapid. We have all figuratively “bent over backwards” for people in our lives, for whatever reasons, often with disappointing results following that action. With this song, Fenix TX set to music feelings that pretty much all of us have had, and made us wish we had done something different.
“Get Loose” is the fourth offering from the EP, It urges the audience to “get loose from what’s taking over you”. The guitars sound as if they are tuned much lower. This makes the song feel much less like that produced by a punk band. It actually feels more like the retro rock being pumped out by a new wave of British and American groups like The Struts, or the Black Keys. The vocals sound distorted, and match well with the heavier sound, but it is somewhat unexpected, coming from these fellows.
It is a short song, and a little hard to understand the muddied vocals, but the underlying message comes through clean. Taken in context, it is a motivational, self-help seminar condensed down into less than three minutes, and if we follow its advice, we would certainly lead much happier, more fulfilling lives.
Cre.ep finishes with “I Don’t Know What to Say”, the story of a relationship gone south. Will plays the part of the guy getting dumped by the crazy, overbearing girlfriend who still thinks he is the problem. I don’t know where he draws inspiration from, but perhaps they are the same lovers from “Spooky Action at a Distance”. He tries to explain that he tried his best to be what she needed, but ultimately decides “It’s not me, it’s you”, faulting the girl for the demise of their love. This complex tale is set to the more traditional punky sound, the three chord sound slowing down for the chorus, then going back up-tempo for the story parts.
Overall, I enjoyed this album a great deal. I love when songs have messages or plots to them, which is why I listen to bands like Fenix TX instead of Wiz Khalifa, or similar artists. It is a fresh take on classical punk music, played well by the boys in the band and recorded by El Hefe of NOFX fame, who happens to run a record label alongside his wife called Cyber Tracks. The album was released September 30th and is available for pre-order from their website.
If you hope to see them live, and live in Florida, you are out of luck in the foreseeable future. They did a few shows earlier this year at different venues around the state, but their upcoming sets are in California. I have no doubt with the release of this EP, they will be touring to support it, likely in festivals such as Warped Tour. I will certainly be on the lookout for them. After a fifteen year hiatus and a near death experience for the singer, Fenix TX is back, and better than ever.
And, check out some other killer new music we’ve dug up for your enjoyment here: RARA’s Fresh Crops
RARA’s Farm is a rock music blog keenly focused on sharing killer new rock music to the Rock And Roll Animals who visit our site. Make sure you Like / Follow Us below to keep in the loop on new music worth a listen, or just to be nice to us.