Ferocious Few


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Ever since the White Stripes broke big and Jack White became an unavoidable cultural presence, the notion of fusing blues structures with a punk rock aesthetic has become increasingly diluted like the well bourbon at a cheap tavern, and the institution of the guitar/drums duo hasn't been doing so well, either. But San Francisco's the Ferocious Few have set out to do something about these pressing issues, and their debut album, Juices, suggests these guys didn't study White Blood Cells for inspiration so much as Bantam Rooster's Deal Me In or the Flat Duo Jets' Go Go Harlem Baby. Not that Juices sounds much like either of those albums; singer/guitarist Francisco Fernandez and drummer Daniel Aguilar clearly dig the blues and play it with plenty of sweat, fury, and tight focus, but their revved-up approach is a bit closer to what the Gun Club were aiming for in their early years, only with more precision and a greater debt to big-city blues, as opposed to the rural bluesmen who were Jeffrey Lee Pierce's meat and potatoes. The Ferocious Few may only feature two people, but they aren't afraid to reach for a big sound, and while the duo uses some judicious guitar and keyboard overdubs, the strength of Fernandez's voice, which sounds like it's been polished to a rich semigloss by repeated applications of whiskey and nicotine, certainly covers a lot of ground, as does his strong, elemental guitar work and Aguilar's drumming, which can shift gears from a jazzy shuffle to a gale-force pummel with ease and equal skill. Like most bluesmen, the Ferocious Few tend to sing about bad love and bad times, but they know the secret to this music is to make these stories sound like they came out of your heart and your life, and when Fernandez sings "the love we shared is gone" on the breakneck "Loc'd Out," you'll feel like you just got handed a Dear John letter. If this is messed-up, fractured, big-city blues, it's still the blues at its core, and it's the soul that the Ferocious Few pump into Juices that makes this a killer debut from a band worth watching.

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