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Reviewed: 'FIDLAR' by FIDLAR; 'Set You Free' by Gary Allan

February 16, 2013
  • Fidlar performs during the 2012 CBGB Festival at Webster Hall on July 5, 2012, in New York City.
Fidlar performs during the 2012 CBGB Festival at Webster Hall on July 5,… (Theo Wargo, Getty Images…)



Mom + Pop Records

Depending on what kind of parent you are, the presence of FIDLAR's new record in your teenager's collection will either horrify or reassure you. A band of young punks born in Orange County, its name is an acronym (roughly) for "Forget It, Dog, Life's a Risk," and it introduces its predilections early in the record.

The chorus of the first track on its roaring self-titled debut is (roughly), "I drink beer! So what! Forget you!" Another song, "Wake, Bake, Skate," became an insta-classic when it was released as a single last year, and references waking up, smoking dope and going skateboarding. God-fearing adults be forewarned, there is blasphemy here, but parents who grew up amid the early L.A. punk scene, rejoice. The kids still understand.

Four young men in their 20s, FIDLAR is part of a wave of new youth aggression that draws on pre-Nirvana American punk rock as practiced by the likes of Black Flag, the Descendents and the Urinals: scream-along anthems about ragged youth, disappointment and messing up. It's apparently in their blood — two of the band's members, Elvis and Max Kuehn, are sons of Greg Kuehn, formerly of T.S.O.L., which roared out of the late '70s O.C. punk scene that inspired FIDLAR.

Luckily, they aren't a bunch of retro posers, nor are their fans. Rather they're humans addicted to noise and volume whose bellowing cries are as true as they are teenage-eternal. "Five to Nine" updates "Rock Around the Clock" for a new generation. Beginning at 3 a.m. they're already having double vision, sings Zac Carper. At 8 a.m. they're coming down off heavy drugs and by 9 a.m. they're drunk and driving to Culver City. They get pulled over at 11 a.m.: "Arrested on my way to L.A. County!"

Bummer, dude. At least your dad will understand.

— Randall Roberts

Gary Allan

"Set You Free"

MCA Nashville

Gary Allan's new single, "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)," shot up the country singles chart so rapidly his label bumped the release date of the album "Set You Free" forward two months. The Southern California-bred singer and songwriter has often brought more depth to his songs than the garden-variety "hat act," and this one's no exception.

There are a number of other potential hits here, but the album itself is more than a compendium of de rigueur heartfelt ballads and up-tempo country rockers. Allan charts an exploratory course through the myriad facets of love, loss and all its ripple effects through a dozen songs, five of which he co-wrote with various collaborators.

The opening track, "Tough Goodbye," written by Josh Thompson and Tony Martin, highlights the regret that can come with a farewell. "Every Storm…" follows, offering some consolation amid the pain, while "It Ain't the Whiskey" and "You Without Me" delve fully into the downside of the wayward lover's ways. By the time he reaches the bouncy, reggae-tinged "No Worries," a slice of light begins to cut through the darkness, showing the way into healing represented by "Pieces" and the album's closer, "Good as New."

Allan has experienced all that firsthand, and there's no mistaking the sound of authenticity in his delivery.

— Randy Lewis


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