What Fowler's Mustache's first disc The Album does not sound like it was recorded in a bedroom, and from a bunch of recent college grads to boot. From the opening chords of "Upon Thoughts Arrival," joined by an atmospheric, floating piano/guitar riff, things sound like polished and well-rounded.
Fowler's Mustache may be fairly new, but they've solidly captured the momentum of an excited, up-and-coming group on a disc with more than a few radio-worthy cuts. The 10 tracks consistently exhibit strong songwriting and storytelling, delivered with a creative mix and lead singer Matt Stanley's distinctive vocals. Closing track "Ain't Life Hard" stands out both for its back-porch simplicity and the accordion fills between verses. The esoteric lyrics of "Viola" captivate and beg for an explanation, while the dirty organ/guitar grinding in "Boneyard" manages to capture the excitement of their live performance.
"Deadman's Curve," with its bouncing guitar riff and repeated admonishment to "take it easy," is certainly a stick-in-your-mind track that you'll find yourself humming days later. "The Saga of Olli Parker" features impressive acoustic guitar work and time changes, although the overall feel is that of the "every-band" playing the random college union.
Fortunately, Fowler's Mustache diversifies the album, from funky-organ rock to acoustic-tambourine ballads like "Shine." That track drops immediately into the wailing guitar riffs of "Viola," just one example of the obvious thoughtfulness put into song selection and placement.
For an almost brand-new band, The Album surprises both in its professional quality and its durability over multiple listens. It's even more surprising to learn they recorded it in a friend's home recording studio, set up in an above-garage bedroom (by Dave Fuller of the East Coast Party Band). It's a welcome reminder that with a collection of great songs, plenty of practice, and a good grasp of your equipment, magic can happen. (myspace.com/fowlersmustache)