-The Allston quarter’s second EP is a titanic, unexpected step forward.
If you haven’t heard Friendo, you’re not alone. After the release of their second effort, The Devil’s Avocado, that’s likely to change.
Friendo came onto the Allston scene a year ago with Not Coming Home, a five song effort that emulated southern garage rock in all its glory, songs about traveling, drinking whiskey and trying to sleep with girls before they pass out (“Shit, she’s asleep man,”).
With The Devil’s Avocado, released January 6th at a packed Allston house show, Friendo introduces a host of new sounds to their arsenal, and beyond that, a willingness to take risks.
Listening to opener “Cliptaxi” for the first time is like daydreaming of the circus, whirlwind of rolling drums and underwater lead guitar, as vocalist Greg Crotty croons in mournful falsetto, convinced that the victim beside him in bed is actually his willing lover. “But she said that she loved me,” he playfully deludes himself, “oh, she loved me.”
The remaining three tracks battle it out for highlight of the EP. The title track is one of those haunted campfire songs, a theme to cattle thieves creeping through the night. Matt Goodhue’s straightforward bass line roots the song, allowing Jesse George’s plunking guitar to weep in every corner of the track. Drummer Brien Reid exhibits both restraint and a proficient mastery in a style reminiscent of The Lido Venice’s “Bury Me Next To My Voicebox.” It’s catchy as hell, not to mention, as Crotty manages to turn the miserable subject matter into a tumblr-ready pop-hook: “No I don’t have a heart anymore, hell I don’t even know if I had one before.”
“I Don’t Mind” is a perfect mix of the country/folk Friendo of old and the experimental bunch we see before us. Lyrically the song is purposefully childish (including puns about anal sex), reminiscent of how childish we are with our hearts broken. The seemingly lighthearted diddy is underscored by the tightest instrumentation on the EP, with Crotty’s banjo-inspired chord progression rolling around George’s awkward(ly awesome) palm-muting. Goodhue again leads quietly on the bass as Reid sits on the kit, waiting to take over in the closing seconds as Crotty wails, admitting “I guess I mind a little bit.”
A song named after UK serial Skins has high expectations from the start, and The Devil’s Avocado closer does not disappoint. It’s the most indulgent track here, logging six and a half minutes about the torturous elements of the party life, featuring a diabolically conceived bass line, a range of effects on vocals and guitars, and finally some attention to the drums! Reid’s fills are indescribably jazzy, and his tom-drive chorus is pleasantly hypnotic. George’s lead guitar throughout is impressive, from the delayed, alien riff before verses to the sweet, Blind Melon chorus line which rivals Crotty’s “This place will be the death of me,” for the most memorable section on the record.
The mark of any good record is the feeling, after the final song ends, that you’ve been somehow shortchanged. That’s it? Unfortunately yes, but there is always the loop function on iTunes, or the option to go back to Friendo’s earlier stuff, with the exciting knowledge that their live set will be a grab bag of trance jams and southern party anthems.
Head here to listen to The Devil’s Avocado.