The kids are alright

Faster! Faster! debut with
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  June 11, 2008
DIRECT AND RAW: Faster! Faster! | Released by Faster! Faster! | with Apollo 99 + Green Light Sunday + Electric Noise Therapy + Pell Mell + Spiral Bound + Gorgasaurus + Gus & The MacDonalds + Jamolidge + Sound Asylum + The Loudest Mime + Heartbreak Vibe + Offset | at Greely Middle School, in Cumberland | June 13 | benefit for the Maine Academy of Modern Music
Of all the complaints you can levy at the Portland arts community, we can all at least agree that we do pretty well by young bands. Maybe they don’t have the greatest selection of all-ages venues in which to ply their wares, but the Station soldiers on, and bands get a fair amount of support as they work their way up to the Station’s stage.

Take the case of Faster! Faster!. Sure, they started in their garage like any band, guitarist Kevin McCord and drummer Ben Shumaker throwing some songs together, but then they found bassist/keyboard player Hudson Eakin at Rock Camp, at the time hosted at the Portland Conservatory. From there, the band won the 2007 Reindeer Rock-Off, gaining some renown under their original moniker, the Project.

Finally, when it came time to record a disc, they used a Portland Music Foundation discount to afford time with Jim Begley at the Studio, then took some advice from a PMF educational session to promote the album.

Now, this coming weekend, the band release as part of the kick-off party for the Maine Academy of Modern Music, where they’re enrolled, joined by a number of similarly young bands who’ve also germinated in our fertile music fields. This town has a bumper crop of talented three-pieces and four-pieces (okay, I’ll stop with the bad farming metaphors soon), and it’s thanks to the care and attention they’ve received along the way.

Of course, all the care in the world doesn’t get you much without talent, and the six songs here do evidence more than a little promise.

Except things get started kind of rough. “If You Don’t Mind” opens with a strummed electric guitar and a hesitant accompanying picked-out melody, which drops away when two vocal tracks come in. McCord is to the fore with an off-kilter and warbly lead that can be endearing but is sometimes pretty Bobby Brady.

“When the smoke finally clears,” he wonders, “will your cigarette still be burning?”

Then the full band sound comes in, hard-charging, upbeat emo, with lots of movement between the two channels, building to an all-stop like a deep breath and then exhaling right into the next verse. McCord’s warbliness is definitely better at volume, and the chorus offers another good sign, with Eakin drawing out short phrases while McCord follows through with quick hits like, “so pardon me, if you don’t mind, while I combust.”

When Eakin takes the front, as he does on “Glynn” for track two, his vocals are steadier and the band take on more of a pop-punk personality, complete with harmonic drops on the guitar and supple harmonies. Eakin gets off some good surrealities: “It’s the second day after/And I can still feel your taste/Filling up my every pore.”

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