Originally written by Lyle Brooks on 5/9/2012
Over the past couple of months I’ve had a chance to see Foxtrot Uniform at Lola’s, Keys Lounge, Woodshed and The Love Shack. The EP that I picked up at one of those shows stayed in heavy rotation for at least a month. There’s an inherent charm that lives between Kelly Test and Kenny Uptain, perhaps it is more seasoning than charm.
Between the burly teddy bear with the golden voice and his Rat Pack crisp partner-in crime, Foxtrot Uniform could easily evolve into a variety show. Comedy, trivia, music; eventually they’ll do road trip movies like Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. I tend to get ahead of myself, music comes first without a doubt. Two guys with voice, guitar and drums generate the full breadth of life’s saga. With such a throbbing rhythm, bass lines are implied, almost sensed intuitively.
Fuzz shuffles in on a big stomp cloud, FU stirs up a delightful racket. Ferocious timbre calls out against a walloping cadence. A Blues-cratered landscape has been left barren by the collapse of the world economy. The two of them work out tight groove mechanism. Big kick drum and a willing reliance on the toms. “I just want you to know.”
Thunder cocked like a pistol hammer. The blues takes on a Southern shade on a zip-line melody kick clacked until my teeth rattle pleasantly. Uptain carves out aural figures with his handiwork, notes torn and shaped wind up between drops of bounding force. You never know when you might hear an aggravated, tense yet soaring version of Peter Gabriel’s “Salisbury Hill.” Or a nifty delight like The Shins’ “New Slang.”
During a late set at Lola’s, the lighter tone gives way as they snap right back to the full-throttle assault, with little time I was locked in between shredded guitar and Uptain’s curdled growl. As though they were calling out to the spirits like some Rock Shaman. As the machine mumbles, the room grows dark.
Bellowing from beneath a rhythmic rubble, you can hear a triumphant demolition. From the dust sprouts a jazzy scooter burning off into an ass shaker, I’m mesmerized by these little pockets. “I ain’t asking for a compromise.”An easy song that crawls out of the holler, like an early morning rain, its upon you before you realize.
Sung high and true like a call across the great divide, the refrain is a mantra into which the duo drives us. “That songs on there for free, come grab a CD.” Kenny’s got no reason to lie, and back home I would revisit the tune time and time again. As they turned on a dirty bog blues cut, Kelly Talk plays his empty beer bottle. “I’m sorry for your disease.”All revved up, they brought out the crowd’s rowdy side as howls and hoots are released.
With agility, the two can transition into a pulsing, vibrant version of “When Doves Cry.” Uptain singing unaccompanied out into the bridge, giving way to bombastic bursts of beats. “Why do we scream at each other?” Annihilating the breakdown with a smoking transition into a barn-burner, “If you are lonely you can talk to me.” These tunes can go from skeletal to volcanic at the flip of a well-timed switch.
Find them where they dispense fine sounds and chant along with them “Hooray to the man in the back who claps for you.” Kenny Utpain plays a regular song swap Tuesdays at M Lounge with David Matsler, he’ll be at Oscar’s Pub this Saturday, 5/12. Look to Fort Live for future Foxtrot Uniform shows around town.