“Won’t you rain your love down on me, O Lord”–The Ferocious Few–Records Under the Radar
On stage, The Ferocious Few are just that–ferocious, a barnstorming duo viciously pummeling their instruments with a fury that belies their seemingly innocuous set-up of acoustic guitar and simple drum kit.
Yet The Ferocious Few have a few secret weapons, the most startling of which is guitarist and singer Francisco Fernandez’s voice. It rasps out, snarling, having apparently traveled many a long and dusty mile. This haunting voice, which veers from a reedy, reaching tenor to a low growl, dovetails perfectly with the shredding guitar and drummer Daniel Aguilar’s galloping, relentless beats. For his part, Aguilar assaults the drum set with anything at hand: jazz brushes, a tambourine, the palm of his open hand.
The songs are simple, generally falling into one of two categories: a lonely lament, or an angry calling-out of a lover or the modern world. This simplicity is a strength rather than weakness, as each song is boiled down to an essence of human experience or emotion, and thus becomes that much more affecting for it. Having stumbled, quite by chance, upon the Ferocious Few playing to perhaps a dozen people in the mid-day heat, this writer was absolutely blown away–it was one of those musical experiences not easily replicated, nor explained.
Juices, the Ferocious Few’s debut album, does its best to reproduce the fury of their live performance, with varying degrees of success. Certainly Fernandez and Aguilar capture that wheeling, reckless feeling; one can almost see Fernandez windmilling on the strings of his guitar while Aguilar vibrates with the beat. But the best tracks head in a different direction altogether. Songs like “How Did This Happen?” and “Crying Shame” place the focus squarely on Fernandez’s singing, and–most critically–his lyrics. It is the lyrics that really imbue the album with that mournful, windswept feeling. They are simple, open, often pained or angry. In “Crying Shame,” Fernandez complements his tale of squandered love and a wish for forgiveness with a humble, lonesome whistling.
This raucous music could be labeled “retro,” or “blues revival,” but that reading is overly simplistic. True, the Ferocious Few are not avant-garde. They are not breaking new musical ground. Rather, they are expounding upon a treasured genre of distinctly American music, and doing it in a way that reevaluates and reestablishes that music’s power and importance. There is an honestly in that pursuit, and an earnestness. There is also an emotional value, for anyone who has ever felt lost, or abandoned, or unloved. It is certainly ironic that music about heartache and loss can cause one to feel relieved of such feelings, but the Ferocious Few, in their earnesty, accomplish just such relief.