"You can pound your fist on my front door / But it’s been too long, I don’t need you anymore." Laurence Scott sings the opening line of ‘Better Things,’ from the Famous’ 2005 debut ‘Light, Sweet Crude’, like he really means it. He might be singing about an old lover, an old friend ’ heck, even an old car. But, the line could just as well be a kiss-off to the staid country and Americana his band seems all too happy to leave behind in a cloud of dust.
Mix that with the exhaust fumes of a 1965 Ford Galaxie, the four-wheeled talisman that led to the formation of the band in 2003 when Victor Barclay (lead guitar, vocals) spotted Scott (lead vocals, acoustic guitar) and his ride outside a Bay Area laundromat and remarked that he owned the very same car ’ and you get an idea of what the Famous is all about. To put it another way: take the ’50s-era country of Hank Williams, Sr. and filter it through ’70s punk rock, ’80s psychobilly, and ’90s post-punk. You’ll find yourself staring eye-to-eye with San Francisco’s own ‘Pixies in a cowboy hat.’ Vic and Laurence are solidly backed up by longtime collaborator Chris Fruhauf on drums and G.D. Hensley (…who some may know as the bass player for the Fat Wreck Chords / Honest Don’s punk rock band, Diesel Boy…) on the bass.
The Famous have been spreading the gospel of their incendiary live show to music lovers across the Bay Area and beyond. Their debut album, ‘Light, Sweet Crude’, was released January 2005 garnering rave reviews from the music press and fans, and enjoying heavy rotation on college radio as well as continuing popularity with podcasters such as Adam Curry.
The band’s latest, 2010’s ‘Come Home to Me’, finds Scott and Barclay refining some of the themes of ‘Light, Sweet Crude’. They’ve perfected their signature raw-country-meets-post-punk sound while maturing some of the more manic elements that made their debut such a bold statement. From Pixies-esque pop gem ‘Mano Negra’ to warm-hearted ballad ‘Every Day’, Scott’s vocals are more self-assured and effective than ever and Barclay’s guitar masters country twang, rock crunch, and searing solos. Of course, they are solidly backed up by Chris, G.D., and a crew of equally adept guests.
Anyone who liked ‘Light, Sweet Crude’ will love ‘Come Home to Me’. Anyone just discovering The Famous may rightly deem them one of the Bay Area’s finest rock acts. Written among the cacti of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona; recorded on the band’s San Francisco Bay Area home turf; mixed in Oak Cliff, Texas by Grammy winner Stuart Sikes (Loretta Lynn, Cat Power, the White Stripes); and performed at shows and festivals including Toronto’s North by Northeast and Denver’s South Park Music Festival, the new songs have been forged by the open road and the American West.
What holds the band’s sound together is a compelling balance between irreverence and intensity. ‘Light, Sweet Crude’ runs the gamut of emotions ’ from sad (‘Tear’) to angry (‘Get You Back’) to plain playful (‘Deconstruction Worker’). A dynamic yet direct vocalist, Scott is perfectly at home in every mood, while Barclay’s standout guitar work fills the space around him with just the right amount of tact and skill. Upon its release, the record garnered rave reviews from fans and critics and enjoyed heavy rotation on college and internet radio. ‘Come Home to Me’ is poised to take the band even further.
Only a wise old ‘65 Galaxie can say where they’re headed next...