After two years in a studio, Oakland CA's Fleshies are back with their most ambitious album ever. Scrape The Walls is a blend of punk, some power pop, and raw sludgy guitars.
Strictly Low-Fi Punk
The first portion of the album is sounds strictly low-fi. The vocals of frontman John Mink (also a columnist for Maximumrocknroll) blend muddily with the instruments. The low-fi sound works (until later in the album - read on), and the result is raw energy. Tracks like "Your Universe" and "Saturday Saints" and "Whee!" are raw punk with a fuzzy, near garage sound. It's a really fun listen with nice guitar riffs.
Instrumentally, much of the album is pure East Bay punk rock, a la The Dead Kennedys. That's why it's no surprise when ex-Dead Kennedys frontman/Alternative Tentacles headman Jello Biafra lays down guest vocals on one track. That song, a cover of Sparks' "Happy Hunting Ground", could easily have appeared on any old Dead Kennedys record. It's straight out of that era.
With a Touch of Hi-Fi and Some Instrumentals
"Happy Hunting Ground", and another track, "Runner's Legs", are both the best parts of the album as well as two of the songs that hurt the album most. They feature tight production and a clean sound. When they are contrasted with the lower-fi production values of the rest of the album, they make you wish that the rest of the album was cleaner. The muddier sounds of the rest of the album would be fine if the entire album sounded like that. Instead, they make you wish the rest of the album was cleaned up a bit, to be as crisp as it could.
One other detraction for the album is the recurring instrumental track. "Half Werewolf, Half Vampire... You are in BIG Trouble!" is a drudging, slow-core track that appears multiple times on the album. Rather than provide a cohesive feel to the album, it breaks it up. Just when the album is travelling at a steady clip, this track gets the album stuck in the mud.
As a whole, Scrape The Walls is a solid album. It suffers a bit from its wide range, almost like the band tried a little too hard to make a great album, instead of letting what they do best come naturally. I just can't help but feel that it could have been much better if the band had spent a little less time in the studio, or a little more time cleaning up the sound.