While watching the 2013 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony, I heard a fascinating quote during a videotaped package played before Randy Newman’s induction. In it, the notoriously acerbic singer-songwriter bemoans the fact that rock music takes itself far too seriously. And now here I am a week later listening to Rhode Island rock band Faber’s new CD, Pain Don’t Hurt, and I’m thinking to myself, “No one is ever gonna accuse these guys of that!” Any band whose biography accounts how “[Faber’s] display of alternative rock riffs and references to 80s movies pleases their four loyal members of the Faber Army …” clearly has their collective tongue planted firmly in cheek.
If you’re not familiar with the musical juggernaut that is Faber, they can best be described as a cross between Green Day, The Vapors, and Zamfir: Master of the Pan Flute (ok, not so much the latter, but I thought the boys would appreciate the reference). Their quirky brand of three chord rock won’t be causing Emerson, Lake and Palmer to lose any sleep tonight. But that said, there is something extremely satisfying about their unabashed lack of pretense. And that’s not a bad thing at all!
Faber consists of Dave Calkins (lead singer and guitarist), Sean DeLong (bass), Matt King (another guitarist) and Artie Tefft (drums). A quick glance at their promotional photos tells me these guys are anything but wide-eyed kids attempting their first stab at big time rock & roll. They’ve clearly been around the block and unless I’ve completely misinterpreted their music, they know exactly what they’re doing and are having a blast doing it! Hell, one of them is wearing leather chaps for f@#ksakes! The prosecution rests, Your Honor….
Pain Don’t Hurt consists of 12 catchy tunes whose genius lies not in the often-adequate instrumentation, but rather in the lyrics. One such example is “Some Strange,” a three-minute litany of every bad pick-up line known to man. Although I’m inclined to just reprint the entire set of lyrics, here’s a select few. “Do you have a Band-Aid? I scraped my knee falling for you. / I am not a genie, but I can make your dreams come true. / Was that just an earthquake, or did you just rock my world? / Do you know CPR, because you take my breath away?” Fair warning ladies, I’ll be using a few of those lines myself this weekend.
“Let Me Know” is a perfect example of Faber’s minimalistic, yet extremely effective, approach to songwriting. Three chords – CHECK! Repetitive refrain of “Let me know, let me know, let me know how you feel” – CHECK! A classic mid-70s-style Who ending that could be mistaken for a train set falling down a flight of stairs – CHECK! It’s only rock & roll, but I do like it.
Clearly these guys are not a studio act by any stretch. Faber’s music is quintessential live fodder, meant to be absorbed through a heaving cloud of humidity, sweat and sound that only a bilgy club venue can provide. Granted, some of the material falls under the “It’s so bad, it’s good!” banner, but by and large, Faber is exactly what much of the alternative audiences today crave – three chords and three minutes of unpretentious rock. Faber made me smile today, and that’s more than Justin Bieber has ever done for me, dammit. Who could ask for anything more?