Let’s get two things out of the way before I talk about how Jon Creeden and the Flying Hellfish’s newest offering, “Stall”, blew me away.
First: I’m not usually a fan of band names that have a “So and So and the So and So’s” format, because I always feel like the band is getting the short shrift. However, this is clearly not the case here because “the Flying Hellfish” is quite obviously the most badass name of all time.
Second: I am not a huge punk guy. I mean, I get it: the energy, the DIY ethos, the energy, the exuberance, the fight against convention, the…energy. However, I’ve never been one those die-hards who feel that punk music somehow shakes the foundations of reality.
That being said, Jon Creeden and the Flying Hellfish’s confessional punk has an intensity and of course an energy that really grabbed me: there’s just something about the honesty emanating from every word that comes from Creeden’s bellowing bawl. The lyrical content is just on this side of hopeless, and maybe just the other side too, with lines like Nailbiter’s “I just keep trying to keep my head on straight” providing a bit of a roadmap to Creeden’s mindset. The album has a pervasive theme of desperate longing, a desire to understand and connect, and it just works.
For instance, the opening track “Anxious” seems to tell the tale of someone who’s desperately trying to understand himself against the struggle of simple existence. It’s rife with insanely relatable thoughts, like ”Every single day is just slipping away / I don’t do a damn thing to make that change at all”. To most, trying to grasp meaning in every day and make it count is a nigh-impossible task, and Creeden hollers these types of deep sentiments in a controlled howl that needs to be heard. It feels like he’s trying to using his lungs to push the demons buried deep in his questions right out of his heart.
The other kick is that it’s easy to imagine this band absolutely rocking the house live. The chorus of Sensible Underpants — ”I know, I know, I know, It’s all in my head” — brings to mind an awesome crowd chanting along and pumping their fists. It’s a pretty impressive trick to make angst and helplessness into something people want to sing along to, and it’s something they do on just about every track.
This is to say nothing of the Hellfish themselves, who set a mightily melodic and rhythmic table. Ryan Cox’ plowing basslines is intensely reminiscent of Entwhistle, though Cox doesn’t bother with the legendary Who bassist’s tendencies to dance around the fretboard; instead, he prefers to borrow the thunder, and to hell with the lightning. Drummer Jason Adair is more than up to the proceedings, bouncing around cut times, complex time signatures and changes in speed and dynamics with aplomb. The cherry topping here is the melodic crunch provided by both Creeden and Steve McCrimmen on guitar, a thick twin attack that elegantly propels the music forward.
Pure punk goodness is often lost on me; not so with Jon Creeden and the Flying Hellfish. Check out this album any time your soul feels cut and you need to pound the stitches back in place.
They’ll be celebrating the release of the physical LP at House of Targ on April 6, alongside The Creeps, Finderskeepers, and Joe Vickers; doors are at 9pm, $10. Be sure to give Jon Creeden a follow on Facebook and Twitter, and swing by the Indigogo page to lock down your own physical copy of the album (and some other pretty rad stuff)!