LaFaro - Easy Meat
Record Label: Smalltown America Records
Release Date: October 3, 2011
LaFaro is a four man rock band from Belfast, North Ireland. They have previously released a pair of EPs through Field Records. Their debut self-titled album was released through Smalltown America Records in April 2010, and in just over a year are releasing their sophomore offering, Easy Meat, on October 3rd. I get to review it.
At its heart, Easy Meat is lively, honest, go-out-and-have-a-good-time rock music with punk's raucous brevity and metal's take-no-BS attitude. Sludgy, groovy bass lines and catchy rock and roll style riffs are the album's trademark feature. Grunge's influence on LaFaro has been replaced with some of the frenetic intensity of post-hardcore and the depth of metal taken at a slightly slower tempo. LaFaro does diverge from the general groove a few times during Easy Meat, most notably in the beautifully performed acoustic "Maudin" which wouldn't sound out of place on an emo album. Jonny's raspy, strained vocals are placed a bit too far back in the mix and are somewhat hard to hear, something a little off-putting to my ears although suiting the album's noisy nature just fine. Another point of note regarding the vocals is that they aren't particularly melodic, more akin to chanting or yelling. This gives the album yet another interesting and unconventional twist by allowing the listener to focus more on the instrumentation, similar to La Dispute's technique. The lyrical portion of Easy Meat is surprisingly interesting when examined beyond face value. Although the lines are kept a little simplistic to maintain catchiness in their poetic structure, they are short, sweet, and straightforward, with little nuggets of wit and wisdom between them.
If you're wondering why I haven't yet mentioned all the 30-60 second interludes, trust me that it's with good reason. They're my only real complaint about this release. Most of them are very bothersome; chopping up the record's otherwise wonderful continuity. What's worse is that they seem to be entirely pointless apart from appealing to a certain rowdy punk crowd which will likely alienate more than a few potential fans, something I can empathize with. Fortunately for these folks, the conventionally musical tracks are very much worth saving, as outlined above.
At first I didn't really understand the territory I was sailing into with this album, since I'm not typically a fan of LaFaro's genre and I was slightly intimidated by its hard-nosed first impressions, but after a few months of contemplation it eased in comfortably. Once we get past the crunchy exterior, we find an entirely different flavor. We find an artistic work that is warm and friendly in its rowdy rock and roll sensibility. If you're reacting to this like how I was, let the album settle in. It won't disappoint you.