In our digital age, sometimes finding great music doesn’t require any fancy press releases, extensive band biographies, or flashy web pages to resonate with the listener. After all, if the music is good enough, no one will care about those things anyway. Such is the case with Long Beach, CA’s The Fling, an alternative/Americana rock collective who need little introduction past simply listening to their album. When the band reached out to me, they simply said “I see that you guys like Delta Spirit so I thought we might be a good fit. It's something we've been working hard on for some time now and we're very proud of how it turned out,” and attached a copy of the album. After listening to the record from start to finish, I did something fairly unusual for myself; I hit play again… and listened to the entire album for the second time in a row. The guys have great reason to be proud, their self released debut When The Madhouses Appear is an exceptionally good slab of honest, organic, and often times psychedelic pop infused rock. Spreading the word of this record has become part of our agenda here at Exploding In Sound, as we believe The Fling are capable of reaching the ears of a wide audience, and those ears will surely be grateful.
Wearing many of their influences on their sleeves, The Fling’s love for The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Syd Barrett runs rampant. The quartet is able to mold their collective influences into a sound that is unique and accessible, creating reflections of the past accompanied by a modern elegance and style. Opening with “Friend of Mine,” the tone is set firmly from the start, acoustic textures blur with wavering electric guitars for a breezy summer atmosphere that’s equal parts psychedelic, shoegaze, pop, and folk. The album’s vocals offer much of the band’s appeal thanks to bright, buoyant, doubled harmonies that are immediately recognizable. “Wanderingfoot” winds through similar territory with gorgeous lap steel accompaniment and a loose Southern twang that fuses perfectly with the insistent clouds of fuzzy distortion. “Strangers” finds the band in full blown Americana prose, a suit that fits them rather well. Jangly acoustic guitars play background to Dustin and Graham Lovelis’ vocal performances, before the yearning hook leads way to deep pounding drums that provide the song’s backbone without overpowering its laid back exuberance.
“Nothing Makes Sense” is one of my favorite tracks on the record, a woozy listen reminiscent of tumbleweed blowing through a dusty western town. The entire record seems to be built around the theme of the “Madhouses” and a sliding mental grasp, brilliantly portrayed in the song’s lyrics. “Elinor,” featuring guest vocals from Delta Spirit’s Matt Vasquez, is a somber tale of aging, deliver over beautiful harmonies, gentle lap steel, and an understated country twang that shines brightly. “No Sleep” and the piano driven “Dry The Rain” mark the biggest pushes into psychedelic territory, remaining calm at all times, while tripped out melodies swirl with harmonized vocals reminiscent of modern folk rockers Good Old War. “Out of my Head” roars with a deep pulsating charge from the rhythm section of Justin Roeland (bass) and Justin Ives (drums), channeling the band’s punk spirit and fleshing it out with grainy vocals and hypnotic guitars.
“Cold Comfort” provides a change of pace from the acoustic edged folk, with a blistering reverb heavy electric guitar freakout. Psychedelic and entrancing, the band kicks things into high gear through stratospheric Pink Floyd reverence. The song launches into deep space with dense building distortion and extended jamming, ultimately proving The Fling aren’t afraid to get heavy if they need to. Sparse closer “Devil’s Man” is stunning, honest, and genuinely bleak. Lovelis sings, “I am a tourniquet, down at the bottom of a well. I’ll stop the bleeding, but I’ll make it hurt like hell,” offering the albums most gut wrenching sincerity over simple yet effective acoustic guitars. Like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Howl did before them, The Fling offer an eclectic array of Americana, soul, and folk rock interspersed within a midst of subtle shoegaze noise that does more to complement the otherwise organic sound than it does to detract. The madhouses may be appearing, but The Fling look to be keeping their cool.
Stream the entire album HERE or below...