The words 'a rock band from Wrexham' don't, in themselves, possess an especially great ring. Nothing to do with the word Wrexham, I should add, but 'rock band' is usually an epithet to be avoided at all costs, not that there's especially anything wrong with it either, while the 'a' has a conveyor belt air about it: it might suggest something formulaic, run of the mill, drab.
Which is precisely why I'll avoid the words when attempting to describe the music of The Fag Machine, even though their bandcamp site quite happily, and unpretentiously, uses the tags 'rock' and 'Wrexham' on their bandcamp site. I'll avoid them because The Fag Machine are different, to give the impression that they're just another 'rock' band would be an unforgivable offence.
They work, it's true, in what might be termed a standard rock idiom, but that's the only thing standard about them. They take guitar and drums and remind you that such instruments, when in the right hands, carry a potency like no other. They re-engage us with a line that begins, roughly, with The Stooges and takes us through primal American guitar music as delivered by the Dead Boys then through Sonic Youth and Mudhoney and on into the wild, untameable future. These are, indeed, exalted reference points, but that's only fitting because The Fag Machine matter.
I first encountered them via their EP 'The Safety Word' a couple of years ago. They've now taken the raw, brilliant impetus of that early promise and built a whole album around it, losing nothing of that raw brilliance in the process. It's called Daylight Saving, it appeared on Record Store Day and it's pretty damn wonderful. From the opening chords of 'Ivory Snow' you know you're in venerable company: there's more than a whiff of Jim Morrison about the vocal drawl, an LA Woman era swagger that most bands would look silly attempting.
The Fag Machine pull it off, you sense, because there's an honesty here: no pretence, no urge to fit in some easy category, to fulfill some marketing man's wet dream - they're about as far from those bands who get in touch with me telling me, with depressing accuracy, that 'we sound like The Foo Fighters/Kings of Leon/Green Day' as music can get, which suits me just fine. This is never derivative - it exhumes 'rock' corpses not to praise them but to further add to their glory. The almost-seven-minute title track doesn't use its length to parade or show off the band's undoubted technical expertise, but to celebrate and, in acting as the album's closer, ask intriguing questions about what this fine band might do next.
Despite so many interesting signposts towards future possibilities, I've chosen the older 'Formaldehyde' to play in my May Dandelion Radio show, which streams at various times during this month. Why? Because I still love it, because it's a tune that oughtn't to be ignored and because, in securing a place on this collection, it offers a link between that raw promise and its eventually flowering on this collection. This is an even better than expected debut album - find out more of what this phenomenal band has to offer here.