Wack-Ass Tuba Riff


Scratchie Records/Mercury, 1996


REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


Okay, this one’s a bit personal. As I was writing my first book, Keeping It Tight In The Old Dominion: A History Of Virginia Rock Music, I found out about this little band from Richmond that never quite made it. It was the mid ‘90s and the Smashing Pumpkins was the biggest thing since Wham! and James Iha and D’arcy were given the autonomy to start their own record label under the auspices of Polygram. Aside from signing friends like Chainsaw Kittens and the Frogs, they also signed a few upstarts, including Phoenix Thunderstone and Fulflej. The latter band, a trio that mixed hip-hop with indie rock, was quite different.

From the outset, one is not quite sure what to make of this band. “Quite Like This” has a very definitive shoegaze influence, though not as deep as say, Slowdive. Jason Greschke’s vocals are a little suspect as they veer from song to song. On this one, his vocals come across a bit childish, not really matching with the musicianship. “Work In This Universe” which was the main single and video at the time, comes across as a lo-fi indie rock track, right down to the drumming. Greschke’s vocals work better here but the song doesn’t really do much for me; it never really has.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Senselessness” is an interesting track with great music that finds the whole band firing on all cylinders, but the lyrics leave a little bit to be desired. “Parallel To Gravity” is one of my favorites here, a raving little number that really builds the overall energy. It’s just a great song and one that should get multiple repeats.

“Microwave” is quite an interesting track. Released on an EP in a different version prior to this album’s release, this version has Greschke’s vocals sounding like a four or five year old kid. His decision to do this was quite odd to the other members of the band, particularly since he had never performed the song like this before or since. It definitely catches the listener’s ear and, in my case, became quite the earworm. The song is weird enough, with surf guitar, cello, and some punk elements in one damn song, but the combination of the vocals on top just makes the song one that needs to be heard over and over to get the whole weird vibe of the thing.

Then there’s “Silver,” which contains some guitar/cello interplay with splashes of piano thrown in. It’s definitely quirky, but it surprisingly works and is one of the more interesting tracks here. There are a few songs that go on a bit long, but I think that has to do with the shoegaze influence. Only one of them, “Worms To Dogs” works well, both musically and lyrically. The rest are a hard pass.

Overall, this is one of the truly oddest records I’ve come across during my love affair with ‘90s alternative rock. This record has truly got a bit of everything, including a hidden track where the frontman raps and spins the wheels of steel. Truly different but ultimately, the weirdness helps make it an interesting disc, one that you want to check out again to make sure that you’re able to catch up with everything you might have missed. This disc has been out of print for years and is not even available digitally. Maybe it’s time for whoever owns this record now to actually do something with it: make it available to the public at large so that they can truly appreciate the musical weirdness that is Fulflej.

Rating: B

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