Ferocious Bubbles
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Ferocious Bubbles

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Band Alternative Rock

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


http://pastemagazine.com/action/article?article_id=3682 - Paste Magazine


The self-titled Ferocious Bubbles cd is a real treat. If I had to speculate, I would say the songs were written during the painful separation that comes with a relationship ending and finding yourself within the lonesome pauses. The lyrics provide insight into relationships all too familiar, whether we are in them at this moment or not. The song, "Absence is a Strange Something", describes something we can all can relate to, the genuine aloneness one as you try to find yourself amidst the cobwebs of the ghost couple. Each song describes a particular emotion, or emotions, which we find ourselves caught up in every day, be it the lively "Going Places" or the curiously melodic "Trees With Bells." There were a plethora of Birmingham artists who chipped in on the latest production. Of Sakura Fame, Toshi Sosoc plays drums and guitars and Nick Punch, of Crane Orchard, played slide guitar. Brandon Smith played banjo and drums and Jason Templin and Andrea sang back-upon several cuts. When Opal South played cello and Ken Moore played guitar and tickled the keys, it is easy to see how this band came together in such a particular way. The band as it exists now, Randall, Vic, Ken and Pete, have created a soulful, intelligent balance of rock and roll that is unfortunately absent in many of today's sounds. - Fleabomb.com


After his set Pete Szelenbaum stood alone by the speaker closest to the stage. Seemingly unfazed by the bellowing sound blasted directly into his right ear, he nodded his head methodically to the music of the newly revamped T-Minus Band. A friend came up to him and they spoke briefly in between songs, before the band drowned the possibility of conversation. Pete doesn't seem the type to yell.

A while later and he is standing away from the speakers to the left of the stage, surrounded by people he knows and who know him. The crowd is now captured by the Americana rock of T-Minus Band, a world away from the soft melodies of Trees with Bells, Pete's project that just left the stage. It would be safe to say that Pete stands in a pool of admirers, as The Nick on this night is crowded with a more thoughtful musical crowd, but to an outside observer he seems completely alone.

Trees with Bells is a band you would expect to find in a coffee house or tea room before in a dingy rock club littered with longhaired band photos and affectionately termed a "dirty little secret." Everything about the band, from the lyrical blending of Pete's breathy voice with Tonya West's emotional timbre, to Opal South's soft manipulation of the cello, to the haunting and half-hidden themes explored in the songs, is exceedingly soft. Their performances often exact emotional bounty from the audience, leaving the more empathetic listeners in tears or on the verge. The themes explored are haunting and universal—vulnerability, loss, childhood, inner strength—which may explain why they have such a visceral effect on the audience.

Interestingly enough, most of the same could likely be said for Pete's other band, Ferocious Bubbles, a mainstay Birmingham fixture often cited as inspiration by bands in local interviews, yet routinely ignored by the local pages. Ferocious Bubbles also has a deeply emotive sound with raw introspective lyrics that grab the audience with revealing insights into human nature, and propel them along emotional journeys. Bubbles, however, seem much more at home at a place like The Nick, with their driving guitar and powerful crescendos. Pete stresses that the differences between the scope of the two bands is largely musical.

"When I started Trees with Bells, I wanted something that wasn't sonically driven. Ferocious Bubbles is definitely about the amplifier and the overdrive pedal. Not to say that the songs themselves are about that, but when we get together, it's about eventually getting loud and coming to a crescendo, which involves me stepping down on the pedal and everybody just bashing away at one point or the other. While that's fun and all, I just wanted to do something that didn't rely on that. I wanted to make songs that you could play from beginning to end that just involved manipulating the nuances of your instrument without having to rely on an amplifier."

The sweet sad bending…
Trees with Bells
That's just that feeling you get in your stomach or your chest when you know that something is lost or gone. I don't even know exactly what it is.

It is safe to say that Pete has achieved that. The Trees with Bells practice happened in a living room with no sound proofing, no speakers, not even a readily visible power strip. A friendly and slightly overweight dog joined me as the second audience member at Tonya's house on 16th. Tonya's brush glided across her snare so lightly that it would have been completely inaudible in a crowded room. Listening to her and Pete sing together was like eavesdropping on a private conversation, and accidentally hearing far too much. The experience was deeply personal, and it was obvious that the young band was infused with a profound respect for one another as musicians, and as newfound friends. The most simple and inadequate way to describe their music is "sad."

"I think it's haunting and melancholy. It's not necessarily sad, but ethereal, angelic, emotional; I think its purpose is to touch people's emotions," Tonya says before catching herself, "but I didn't write the songs so I can't really say."

There was a strong feeling that when trying to uncover the hidden nuances of the band, all roads led to Pete.

"There's definitely a strong, sad element to most of the songs," Pete says, "but at the same time, I find the stuff to be pretty funny. It's kind of a private joke. I'm making fun of myself and other people a lot of the time. It's just a way of getting out the melodramatic side of myself."

Normally this would be disregarded as a cover for being too emotional, but from Pete it's beleivable. Humor doesn't spring to mind when listening to Trees with Bells, but as Pete said it's a private joke. The strongest impression I get from their music is sincerity—a deep, unapologetic sincerity—which is one of the keys to the lasting impact that their shows have on their audience. People walk away from a Trees show using words like "beautiful" and "touching" rather th - Fleabomb.com


Finally, the true ferocity (no pun intended) of the live show of Ferocious Bubbles has been accurately translated onto disc. FB have long been one of my favorite live acts, but my main knock on the EP that preceded this first full-length was that it really didn’t reflect the intensity of the live performance. That has been more than achieved in Save Yourself. As usual, I am a bigger fans of the faster and more energetic songs, such as Skywaves, Moons after Moons (could be one of my favorite songs period), and Save Yourself and Run Away, and less of a fan of the slower, more plodding and introspective tunes like Revenge, but I think Emo fans and rockers will both find something they really like in this disc. Overall, a very strong first full-length that comes very close to, but in this reviewers opinion falls just short of, achieving the potential that is so palpable in their live shows. There are a few instrumental pieces that seem to be fillers to me, but I’ve never been very indulgent with experimentation on an album. I think the only real knock on this album is it could be more, but that’s really the prejudice of a long-time fan rather than a review of the album. The album itself is great and serves as a wonderful conduit to one of Birmingham’s more multifaceted and intriguing local bands. - Fleabomb.com


Six songs that reveal everything that's right about music being made locally by young people who have nothing to gain but the pure joy of creating something unique. The name says it all: with its sweet lyrics, inventive production, and brevity (you don't have a lot of time to fall in love before the songs disappear - thus demanding repeat listening), Ferocious Bubbles are aggressively sublime. - Laser's Edge


Link to website:

http://www.wbhm.org/Tapestry/bands/FerociousBubbles.html

Direct link to audio interview:

http://www.wbhm.org/Tapestry/bands/bubbles-mix.m3u - "Tapestry" WBHM


Bubbles hit Rooster's
By Kevin Saucier
thecornernews.com
Friday, October 13, 2006


There are plenty of bands who can’t live up to the cool names that they’ve bestowed upon themselves, but Birmingham’s Ferocious Bubbles do not belong in this category. A description of the Bubbles’ music, which is both spacey and catchy, carries the same kind of contradictory power that their name does.

Ferocious Bubbles came about when songwriter Pete Szelenbaum wrote a couple of songs. “I had a batch of songs that I wanted to record, so I just started to look around for guys to help out,� Szelenbaum said. “When it was just me the songs were definitely much poppier, but when the other guys came in, their input helped develop the sound into a much more angular, post-punk style.�

The post-punk influence was brought in by the Bubbles’ bassist, Victor Donati, while the band’s approach to dynamic changes was developed by guitarist/keyboardist Ken Moore. “Ken is a classically trained musician, so his attention to dynamics added a lot of color to the songs,� Szelenbaum said.

Ferocious Bubbles’ atmospheric guitar sound is taken care of by Nick Punch. The effects he applies to his guitar, along with Moore’s keyboards, help to give Ferocious Bubbles their atmospheric sound.

“Nick’s specialty is effect pedals and he looks at his pedal board as an instrument in itself,� Szelenbaum said.

The entire band brings a broad range of influences to the table that include, most notably, The Flaming Lips, Do Make Say Think, and early The Cure.

Ferocious Bubbles will perform at Rooster’s Friday. For more information, check out www.ferociousbubbles.com, or www.myspace.com/ferociousbubbles.

- The Corner News


Ferocious Bubbles are a new (and, i might add, awesomely named) indie rock band from Birmingham, AL. I first discovered them back in May, when they played at Lenny's and guitarist Nick Punch (formerly of Crane Orchard and Audomobil) gave me a copy of this CD. It's been in and out of my player all summer. This is a nice, catchy album.

On the record, Ferocious Bubbles were a 4-piece band. Punch was added later to beef up their guitariness, i guess. Anyway, the mastermind of the band in one Pete Szelenbaum. He is the vocalist and, if i am reading the liner notes correctly, principle songwriter. He does a fine job, churning out lyrics that are witty enough without being overly pretentious. That is to say, even though the words are worth listening to, they are obviously not the only point of the record. Contrast this with some records i listen to, wherein i think that in another era the musician would have just cranked out a book of poetry... I am sure you know what i'm talking about: that sort of stuff where the actual music seems to be an afterthought to the clever wordplay. I guess that some people like that, but if i am listening to a band, i expect all of the pieces to fit together, and for none to be overly dominant. I guess that what i am getting at here is that Ferocious Bubbles have a sense of balance.

Szelenbaum has a nice voice too. It's understated, but clear. It comes across as somewhat innocent. And, indeed, there is a certain joie de vivre to the album that reminds EvilSponge (well, specifically Tracers and myself) of Neutral Milk Hotel. Some sort of goofy happiness is shared by both bands, and it makes the whole thing all that much more enjoyable. I also think that the drumming of Randall "Pan-Pan" Shurbet must be mentioned. He does a wonderful job of keeping the proceedings going, and is able to provide subtle accompaniment where required (Saint Jude) and to beat the tar out of his kit when necessary (Airport). The other band members do a fine job as well.

Anyway, several of the tunes are here are just great. Airport kicks off the album with a whirl of guitar, some distortion, and a catchy (and increasingly frantic) drum beat. This fades into Blood, which is driven by a deep bass riff, and hard staccato drum hits. This reminds me of some of the music of The Death Ray Davies. Skywaves moves at a martial beat with droning slide guitar and distorted voice. It's a vaguely mournful song, and is just fun.

Saint Jude is a slow, soft song featuring mostly guitar and heavily distorted voice. It has a real lo-fi feel to it, and is rather pretty. This is one of the several songs on the album wherein Szelenbaum sings about "hope". He keeps coming back to this one feeling. I suppose it is the thematic element that ties the album together. Or, perhaps, he is just obsessed with the concept. (Who can blame him, given the current state of the world?) Or perhaps he just needs to cheer up? I can't say, but on repeated listens i kept noticing this word jump out at me. Interesting. I wonder what it all means?

Finally, i would like to mention Moons After Moons. This is a short song, but it features a fuzzy guitar bit that seems to have come from an early Dinosaur, Jr. record. It is the most new wavey tune on the album, and is a thoroughly enjoyable romp.

Overall, this is a fun record. Fans of the indie rock genre would do well to give this a listen, or to check out the band if they happen to play nearby. I think that the record also shows that Ferocious Bubbles have a lot of promise, and have rather a lot to offer as a band. After seeing them perform three times since this album came out, i think that the band has continued to grow. I look forward to hearing what they do next.

original article at: http://www.evilsponge.org/albums/FerociousBubbles__SYARA.htm

- Evil Sponge


Discography

Eponymous EP, Absence Is A Strange Smething LP, Save Yourself And Run Away LP

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

If it's true that, as Elvis Costello once famously opined, writing about music is like dancing about architecture then describing the music of Ferocious Bubbles may resemble an arc that begins with Isadora Duncan and ends with Merce Cunningham. It's a music that even at its most spare is beautiful and fluid, never afraid of abstraction, incident, or the ability to change. At its essence is a vital buoyancy that, despite singer / songwriter Pete Szelenbaum's tendency to stay grounded, pulls everything skyward. There are no fixed points, even when things seem irrevocably stuck.

There are several songs in the Ferocious Bubbles oeuvre that long for something off in the distance, but never before has the band released an album so occupied with the notion of escape. That being said, one might imagine the Ferocious Bubbles' latest album, Save Yourself and Run Away as the soundtrack of the modern dance equivalent of Waiting For Godot. Listen close and you'll hear the nervous shuffle that comes before making a move towards the unknown: Ecstasy, fear, calm, darkness, acceptance, it's all there. But despite the rush of "Airport" "Skywaves" or the soaring title track, the protagonists of Save Yourself and Run Away are on the verge of movement but never quite make a leap.

Or so our ears tell us: Perhaps it's only through that "Hopeless sense of hope that only the hopeless would know" described to us in Save Yourself and Run Away's meditative centerpiece, "St. Jude", that we know there is life after the track fades... That we know someone has made a move somewhere.
Ferocious Bubbles began with Pete Szelenbaum's head full of songs and a four-track recorder. Though he had been writing songs for some time, it wasn't until 1999 that a revolving cast of friends and admirers lent their considerable talents to fleshing these songs out live and in the studio, resulting in a self-titled E.P. With its sweet lyrics, inventive production, and brevity, the eponymous title said it all: the Ferocious Bubbles were aggressively sublime.

The feeling that Ferocious Bubbles were something of a community affair was furthered with Absence is a Strange Something ' the band's first full-length album. It was during this time that a Ferocious Bubbles show might feature more than half a dozen musicians, including a miniature string section. As luck would have it, that revolving door policy eventually led to the current line up of Szelenbaum on an overdriven acoustic guitar, guitarist Nick Punch, bassist Vic Donati, drummer Randall Shurbet, and multi-instrumentalist Ken Moore.

It's this current line-up that recorded Save Yourself and Run Away and, perhaps not so surprisingly, represents the group's most powerful amalgam to date. In a live setting the band breathes powerful new life into even the album's most delicate compositions, if you think the album version of "St. Jude" is breathtaking, it's live counterpart may move you to tears.

Pete once told Fleabomb.com "I like making songs because the final product, even though you can record onto tape or CD, it's nothing you can see or hold. It's nothing tangible, and it's subject to repeated interpretation every time you play it. There's something really liberating about knowing that something will never be the same way twice." With the band already collectively writing and recording a new album, one may only guess as to where Ferocious Bubbles may lead us next. What we can be sure of is that moves are being made and the destination is sure to be somewhere beautiful.

Ferocious Bubbles are currently playing the Southeast region in support of Save Yourself and Run Away. The band has shared the stage with bands such as Elf Power, Stone Jack Jones, Annuals and Tapes n' Tapes. Members have contributed and collaborated with other such artists as Crane Orchard, Ponieheart, Will Oldham and Barking Tribe (Rykodisc).