The Bootleg EP
Independent Label Group
By Alexandra Edwards
Funeral Party, a four-piece from working class East LA, have released a promising three-song EP that showcases their considerable popularity as a backyard-party band. The Bootleg EP may not reinvent the genre, but it definitely proves they have an aptitude for post-punk dance music.
"NYC Moves to the Sound of LA" serves as part thesis statement, part challenge to the New York scene. The song opens with a combination of beats, one set played on cymbals, the other sounding like someone beating on all the pots and pans in their kitchen. It builds until the beats seem to come from everywhere at once, then adds driving guitars and rough vocals into the mix. Lead singer Chad Elliott sounds a bit like he's got a permanent sore throat, and as the song continues, the voice gets rougher with each line. It's a nice touch to an otherwise well-executed but fairly standard indie rock dance number — as though this wasn't recorded in the studio, but rather towards the end of a long live set in a smoky bar. The effect matches the growing fierceness in the lyrics, a parallel build of punk nihilism and vehement commands ("Now I know that it's all been done before and will all be done again / So pick up the trends").
On "Chalice," croaking calculator sounds segue into what could be a lost cut from Bloc Party's Silent Alarm. This isn't to say the song is bad, just a little unoriginal. And who can blame them, really? That pulsing desperation is eloquent in a way that few other sounds capture, and the band does it well. Add Elliott's distinctive scratchy vocals into the mix, and it spins the emotion into a different enough direction to satisfy.
In fact, the vocals are pretty much the centerpiece of this EP, what keeps it from sounding like any other post-punk dance band you've heard. "Carwars" is another note-perfect page from that particular stylesheet: a fun indie disco song, complete with cowbell at the start, a great breakdown with handclaps around the three-minute mark, and then a synth outro. Elliott's voice once again takes on the task of setting it apart, a rough edge laid over the well-produced sounds. The result is like taking a perfect polished end product and rubbing it down with sandpaper. It's a surprisingly effective method for keeping the songs sounding fresh and vital.
The Bootleg EP proves that Funeral Party can perfectly inhabit a sound, and even throw something a little different into the mix. And, perhaps most importantly, these are songs you'll want to dance to.
Funeral Party open for …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead on February 24 at The EARL. Get your tickets here now.