Band: Feller Buncher
Album: 203040 (2016)
Genre: Hard rock
Where to buy: Bandcamp
I have a soft spot in my heart for power trios. There’s something so pure about a guitarist, a bassist, and a drummer playing as hard as they can with no other instrumental support. It must be the teen in me. French rock group Feller Buncher sounds hard and punky and heavy. The songs on 203040 are fun, well-structured, and perfect for knocking around in a club with friends. There is aggression here, but they avoid the trap many similar groups fall into, mistaking aggression for musicality. 203040 calls to mind the hard rockers of the mid-90s; some of these riffs are clearly inspired by the sounds of Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Bush, Kyuss, and others. There are even some moments that grind out like early Mastodon with an unrelenting heaviness and super fuzzy distortion, but Feller Buncher zazzes up their production with their own signature elements.
In this 20-minute release, every member of Feller Bunch pulls his weight. Most obviously noticeable is drummer Raphael, providing solid beats and creative fills with enough energy and poise to turn his trap set into more than a timekeeping implement. Rarely do you hear truly musical drums in these genres, but the sums of these songs are much more than their individual parts, and Raphael’s work is a significant component of that calculus. Bassist and singer Antoine lays down some thick, fuzzy lines. His vocals grind out with just the right amount of intensity, nicely complementing guitarist Guillaume’s overdriven power chords. There really aren’t any solos to speak of, which is fine as these songs don’t really need them. There are a handful of creative breakdowns and the layering and production work well. Musically, Feller Buncher has their fundamentals down and can take their sound to some exciting places.
What I like most about 203040 are the little moments that surprised me. “Minotaur” begins with a playful, low-gain, single-note picked riff, which acts as melodic glue throughout the song, even as it is joined by full distortion and buried under the sound. “Le Chiffre” and “After You” have some unexpected phrasings that elevate the song construction beyond the pro forma structures you can hear on every punk and power trio CD in any music store – listen for a few unpredictable bars of 5/8 in the former and of 2/4 in the latter. The end result is both interesting and playful, even though the sound is aggressive, and it’s easy to tell that Raphael, Guillaume, and Antoine are having fun. It’s a sad truth that so much of the posturing in hard rock is decidedly joyless (what could be less hardcore than a guileless smile?), so it’s fantastic to hear a band that is comfortable expressing the joy of making aggressive music without resorting to self-conscious irony. Feller Buncher’s sound is subtly charming, and I’ll be glad to hear what they do next.