Review: local band Fat Moth’s stellar debut album

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Towards the Christmas break last year, St. Catharines based psychedelic band, Fat Moth, delighted a devoted crowd with a show entirely of their own creation; they had total control over everything from the opening acts to the decorations at the venue, and they made full use of all of that freedom. It was, in fact, a special occasion for the band as this was the release party for their self-titled debut album, after years of performing with one another in various musical contexts and projects. For the band themselves, it must have felt like the culmination of everything they’ve been working at for a very long time. But for the average listener, Fat Moth sounds like the beginning of something beautiful.

The album achieves something that’s almost impossible to do: it captures all of the energy of a Fat Moth live performance. What can often be a sterile studio environment is a spacious hall of experimentation on this record, and none of what makes the band such a captivating live experience is missing. The tracks are as varied in style and feel as the song titles: ‘Milford Sounds’ is a mid-tempo rock groove packed with unique flair, ‘Nostalgia’ is a psychedelic cacophony of soaring sounds and soothing vocals, and ‘For Thom: Dancing Loons’ is a suitably heart-wrenching ballad that closes the album, performed solely by frontman Jon Lepp’s forlorn vocals and outer-space guitar playing (with subtle but divine assistance from pedal steel player Joe Lapinski).

The whole album is a testament to the sheer wizardry this group of artists can bring out of each other. There’s not a dull moment on the whole album, and there’s not a single performer who fails to pull their weight. Drummer Joe Mahony handles everything from slow grooves to complex walls of rhythm with ease. Emma Lee Fleury, Anthony Sweet provides beautiful harmonies to Lepp’s vocals, and the interplay between Lepp and guitarist Jordan Alexander keeps both of them on their feet. And it’s exactly that energy that makes Fat Moth so invigorating; there’s a collaboration between the members that goes beyond sharing a stage. They don’t just perform together; it feels like they are one single performer. In the nearly 40 minutes it takes you to listen to this record, you will realize as such. There’s an energy in this band that’s threatening to let loose and take on a life of its own, and I for one would love to see where it goes.

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