The Pee Wee Fish – Flying

You can accept a bit of the unique nature of the oddly named Pee Wee Fist simply by understanding that the current line-up of the project consists of a full-time accordianist and theraminist. And Pete Fitzpatrick, the founder and guiding force behind the band, is known to break out the euphonium on a moment’s notice.

To get a grasp of the music contained on this, the band’s official debut full-length, you really have to listen to the whole album. Because there’s a definite mix of styles and influences that run the gambit from out-right rockers to countrified numbers, all with a consistent indie rock sensibility to tie them together. Most of the songs are upbeat and contain Fitzpatrick’s unique lyrics. The closest comparisons would be, perhaps, to mix Neil Young with The Flaming Lips and Neutral Milk Hotel, and that’s a scary combination.

The album gets off to something of a momentus start with “The Seeds of the Day,” a song with three unique movements. Right off the bat you realize that The Pee Wee Fist are taking their music seriously, as this 8+ minute song runs the gambit from rocking harmonica solos to up-tempo country-style rock. “Beauty & The Beats,” on the other hand, is softer and more folk style, with some fantastic piano that shows off the versatility of the band. To make matters more confusing, “Let’s Go (Deja Blue)” reminds me, perhaps, of American Music Club, and it’s perhaps one of the band’s most momentus songs with a kind of uplifting feel to it, and “Pedicure,” with it’s high-pitched vocals and lines like “everybody’s got a foot inside their mouth / nobody takes the time to kiss it” is vintage Flaming Lips-style pop/rock.

We continue with an ecclectic mix of styles and sounds, which isn’t too surprising, seeing as how the band recorded the songs over several years in several different locations and even a varying line-up. “Golden Voices” is a Johnny Cash style folk ballad, while “Ghost of a Plastic Bag” picks up the pace again with a light-hearted indie rock number. “Chinese Star in Metal Shop” reminds me of a more rocking Pavement track, while “Hi, Hi” starts off quiet and moody yet becomes a more raging guitar song with Neil Young-like washes of feedback. One of my favorite songs, “Mnemonic Hordes” is a slightly alt-country track that has the most perfect flow and feel you’d hardly notice it’s country-ish leanings. “Falling Out” is a rambling, quiet, 9+ minute track, while the title track ends with a quiet, slightly distortion-laden track that uses the piano again to good effect.

I think it’s precisely the varried influences here that make me like this album so much. Or perhaps it’s Fitzpatrick’s songwriting. Because each of these songs is strong and moving in their own way. From the folkier stuff to the more country stuff to the outright indie rock tunes, The Pee Wee Fist have a firm grasp on what they’re doing. One album of one of those styles just wouldn’t be enough.