Eugene Weekly : Music : 6.24.10

Dark Beyond Their Years

A love gone wrong. A broken heart, a broken promise. So begins the story that unfolds in “Dead,” the single from Twisted, Tied Up, Tangled, the 2009 debut album by alt-rock group Fools for Rowan. Lead singer Erin Mullins might look young, but her voice is more powerful than that of the singers of many similar alt-rock bands we’ve seen come and go over the past decade. Yes, this band has a lot of what you might expect from this genre: the overly emotional lyrics; the dark, ominous melodies (and clothing); and the grunge-meets-emo songs filled with raw, angry explosiveness. But even those who might not ordinarily appreciate these female-led alt-rock emotional ballads should take a moment to appreciate this singer. 

“Burnt Around the Edges,” the first track on the album, is slow to start, as Mullins begins setting up her metaphor about gasoline and matches and being “burned” from love. But once she gets into it, Mullins distinguishes herself as a mature and expressive singer, with a slight country twang that points to her origins (the band hails from Nashville). Whether she sounds alt-rock or alt-country, her singing is sheer intensity. 

This is a young group, but all seem quite competent in their musical abilities. There is an overall sense of seamless cooperation between the band members, with a nice balance between vocals and melody. The lyrics are pretty simple, using common metaphors, but don’t let that stop you from absorbing all of the fervor and enthusiasm this band packs into their music. Fools for Rowan plays at 8:30 pm Thursday, June 24, at The Axe & Fiddle. 21+. Free.
Catherine Foss

Big Fatty Wants Your Ass at Shows

Better late than never. That could be the motto of Joshua Finch’s Viking Princess Productions. Finch is the mastermind behind Fatty’s Eugene Mixtape, a quarterly CD compilation of local music that can be found around town for $5. The first two volumes of music are already available, and Finch is ready to celebrate with Fatty’s Big Fat Launch Party, a dirt-cheap rock show. 

Fatty’s Mixtape features an hour’s worth of local music with local artwork on the cover, all genres and no favoritism, though Finch does play in Point Zero Eight, one of the bands that’s playing the launch party. “The whole point is to raise awareness of the local music scene,” says Finch. “There seems to be a lot of talent here, a lot of music, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone rallying the troops, if you will. I want to get more asses out at shows.” 

Finch helped put on shows when he lived in Bend, but nothing as ambitious as what he’s doing now. He simply got tired of seeing untapped potential here and figured, if not him, then who? “It seems like a good way to meet other musicians and keep the shows happening, maybe help bolster turnout,” Finch says. He hopes being able to hear the music first will make people more likely to pay to see the bands. “So far all the bands have been really stoked on the idea,” Finch says. “The most common response is, ‘The scene here needs this; I don’t know why someone isn’t already doing it.’” 

Finch views the Eugene scene as a springboard — people can safely experiment with music or art, but as soon as they get some interest, they want to move on to a bigger scene. “I feel that the CD could be a useful tool to push the local scene to be more organized and more stable,” he says. “Someone has to kind of keep the light on and be the hub of the local scene and there really isn’t anyone being that person at this point. I may not be the most equipped, but I’m gonna try.”

The first 50 people in the door at Finch’s show get a free Fatty’s Launch Party CD. The CDs are currently available at CD World, House of Records, Albee’s Gyros, Kitsch, Thunderbird Market and Museum of Unfine Art. Finch hopes to launch his second project, a music, prose and poetry zine called Exiled in Eugene, in July.

Fatty’s Big Fat Launch Party featuring Mascot, Parade of Storms, Point Zero Eight and Explode-A-Tron takes place at 9 pm Saturday, June 26, at the WOW Hall. $5 adv., $7 door. — Vanessa Salvia

Love’s Ups and Downs

The first track of Dave Barnes’ latest release and fourth full-band studio album, What We Want, What We Get, suggests that we’re about to embark on a 10-track journey through McCartney-motivated silly love songs. Not true. That opening track, “Little Lies,” delves deep into the realistic language of love. “Words can be daffodils or a fire in an open field,” Barnes sings. Now that is love, beautiful and frightening, “butterflies with broken wings.”

As a songwriter, Barnes was initially only interested in writing material for other performers but was later encouraged by his peers to perform his works himself. So, damn his boyish good looks and amiable stage presence, after graduating from Middle Tennessee State University, that’s what he set out to do in 2002 when he released his debut EP Three, Then Four. His songwriting skills have since been praised by Amy Grant, Vince Gill and John Mayer. Barnes even dabbled in stand-up comedy but thankfully returned to songwriting in 2007.

Barnes’ latest messages for all lovers — with obvious Fagen and Becker influences — reach fruition in the final tracks, “My Love, My Enemy” and “Amen,” with observations such as “You’re my darkest night lost at sea / You’re the shadows / You’re my light” and “We will have tears / There will be graves.” Dave Barnes and Tyler Fortier play at 8 pm Monday, June 28 at the WOW Hall. $10 adv., $12 door. — Blake Phillips