Friday, March 24, 2006

Can + AC/DC = Th' Faith Healers

My math may be a little fuzzy, but that's close enough.

Th' Faith Healers, the early 1990s UK quartet that made barely a splash in those indie-boom days but whose mix of Kraut Rock drone, relentless propulsion, and all-out rawk made them one of the few bands from that period to be what they call "ahead of their time."

Th' Faith Healers, who claimed that Thee Hypnotics won their "e" in a late-night poker game. A story Greil Marcus included in every article he wrote about them - and he wrote several - and later proclaimed them "a great combo who made the most blithelessly extreme music of the decade."

Th' Faith Healers, who released a several EPs and two albums on Elektra - Lido and Imaginary Friend - and then broke up before they could record the tracks they wrote for their third full length. Unclear whether it was creative differences or sheer public neglect.

Th' Faith Healers, whose brand new Peel Session EP collects many of the tracks from that very same coulda -been, shoulda-been album. And now they've reunited, played SXSW to universal raves, and are booked to blow through the Mercury Lounge later this month.

Th' Faith Healers, whose lead singer Roxanne Stephen raves about her favorites in a recent Dusted Top 10, shedding some light on the group's musical influences and proving her good taste by also discussing brilliant filmmaker Lynne Ramsay (Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar) and author Iain Sinclair (Lights out for the Territory, Lud Heat).

Th' Faith Healers, a band whose albums I only bought because of my friend Mark's adament recommendations and promptly underrated but curiously never sold back. But returning to them several months ago, I found they've only grown in stature, swagger, and raw power. Lido is more rock, whether it's the unhinged hardcore '60s putdown "Hippy Hole," Feelies play heavy metal rush of "Moona in a Joona," or their fab amphetimine cover of Can's "Mother Sky." But good as that is, Imaginary Friend is even better. The songs are stronger, the buzzing drone is more nuanced, and they groove as much as they rock - which is quite a bit on both counts. Best album closer ever: "Everything, All at Once, Forver" - a loping and corruscating 20 minute piece that keeps ebbing and flowing without once breaking its hypnotic spell. (This is where they win their "e" back). It's a song you want to get lost in and promptly do, the type of music that is difficult to find your way out of again. What the group might do for an encore is nearly impossible to imagine, but I'm not going to make the mistake of selling them sort this go round.


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