How could we say no to an album that just screams “MASSACHUSETTS!!!”?!? Not since Jonathan Richman’s ode to the Bay State has a record resonated so much with us. Sure, Friendship Commanders’ MASS probably won’t get any tracks played at Fenway Park over “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” anytime soon especially with the self-autobiographical seriousness of it all … but we can dream of hearing “Blue” in a stadium at some point, right?
Nashville duo Friendship Commanders is readying their third LP, a concept record conceived by songwriter Buick Audra following the suicide of a longtime friend based on memories and true stories of her time in and out of MA, aptly titled MASS. Inspired by the heavy message comes a heavier record that, regardless of what listeners take away from the lyrical content, is easily FC’s strongest to date. The aforementioned “Blue” is possibly one of the coolest songs written featuring our home state (Although lately the skies are definitely not the same color as the song title) and touches on the idea of staying, in a relationship or in a place, is not always best.
Co-produced by the band and Kurt Ballou (Converge!) at God City Studio in Salem (Seriously, could MASS be any more Massachusetts???), the tracks that follow “Blue” are just as dense and determined with “Fail” following next in a big and bold way and an inherent buzz around every pluck or strum. “High Sun” is like “Cherub Rock” put through an Eleven filter with these gorgeous harmonies that bring to mind the ones that Alain Johannes and Natasha Shneider used to croon out together while “Vampire” is vibrant and crunchy as Audra’s Bluesy delivery offsets Jerry Roe’s crushing percussive pressure.
“We Were Here” hearkens back to the Alt ’90’s and those giant anthemic songs of yore that comes off like Ann Wilson fronting Sugar, “Distortion” is a fuzzed out number featuring another huge chorus, and “A Retraction” is pointed and purposeful with Audra’s yearning croon at the center of this Doom-laden ditty. “Move” is layered in reverb and feedback before becoming a more pensive Rawk out that acts as the harbinger for the spoken word finish “Dissonance” with Audra offering what “she hoped the listener was able to hear and see during the course of the record”.
MASS drops through Trimming The Shield Records on September 29th and is available for pre-order now in a variety of formats (Some of which contain an essay collection by Audra called MASS: Essays on Memory, Language, & the State of Massachusetts) which you can find located together here. For more from Friendship Commanders, including where you can catch them live like when they touch down locally at O’Brien’s on October 21st, follow them along the information superhighway by clicking here, here, or here.