Fivehead – Big Mistake Factory EP

Big Mistake Factory EP

Indie rock is what got me into music. Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, and Pavement from the late 80’s and early 90’s changed my casual music listening into an obsessive habit. And the six songs on Fivehead’s Big Mistake Factory are as indie as it gets. The songs are either laid back and loose, or raw, rocking, and fractured. Additionally, Fivehead released their 1999 debut full-length It’s Not All Good and It’s Not Right On on Big Bucket Club Records, the band’s self-constructed label, before moving to the independent Tight Spot Records for this release.
While Fivehead’s sound is undoubtedly influenced by the bands that changed my perspective on music, Big Mistake Factory has enough musical variety to not sound tired. And Fivehead — composed of John Hunt on vocals and guitar; Beaty Wilson on guitar, vocals, piano, and nord lead; Davis Comeau on drums, cello, hammerhead, skillsaw, and vocals; and Jeff Jones on bass, lap steel — is not a big Sebadoh rip-off. The album opener, “Cape Codders,” seems darned familiar, but I cannot pin down exactly why. It is one of the more subdued numbers here, lulling along with cello and vocals mellow. The dual guitar playing has quite the Pavement feel, but the almost baritone chorus “she is losing her lunch” is not Malkmus in any way. And the constant repetition of “and so on and so on and so on, and so on” that closes out the song wipes out the Pavement comparison, sounding more like that old Longpigs song from 1996, “On and On.” You hear me.
Next up: “Mo Elling,” a one minute and forty-three second rocker. The rough Dinosaur Jr. guitars employed in this song make it not terribly original. But the song is nonetheless thoroughly enjoyable, bringing me back to the best of the early 90’s, along the lines of Sebadoh’s III. “Halftime Show” is the choice slacker song of Big Mistake Factory. Jeff Jones’ melodic bass lines again bring to mind Sebadoh’s finest, circa Bakesale. Halfway through the album lies the beautifully moody “#1 Heart.” Hunt’s almost whispers “I miss the way that you laugh / and I miss the way that you felt” before the cello and piano chime in next to the guitar picking. The slowest song on the album, “#1 Heart” screams Death Cab for Cutie’s “405.”
The standout track on Big Mistake Mystery, “Young and Compliant,” begins with a Little House on the Prairie cello intro before breaking into a drum-heavy song of force that Lou Barlow could have churned out had he lived in Austin, Texas as well. The chorus, “I was just showing off,” is sung repeatedly, stressing different words each time. But perhaps the real clincher of the song is the synthy sounds at the close that provide that atmospheric, spacy ambiance that we all know and love. The most aurally challenging music is found in “Last Vegas Stance,” an acoustic, almost folk song that still somehow fits with the previous five songs. The use of the lap steel, more synth sounds, and spoken words allows for a less instantly accessible song structure. Nevertheless, the song closes the album in style.
I will be the first to look into Fivehead’s sophomore full-length, as really the only thing wrong with this EP is its 17-minute running time. And while there is nothing groundbreaking in the lyrical content, lines like “she’s jamming to the oldies / but she’s rocking to the nineties / she’s falling through a thrift store looking for someone / to kiss” are at least engaging. An album with twice the number of songs of this caliber will surely be a contender along with Preston School of Industry’s All This Sounds Gas for the “most indie in a good way” album of 2001-2002.