Fattback's Canary might be the most fun local album released so far this year. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has caught the quintet's occasional stint as a Huey Lewis & the News cover band. (For real: They nailed "Heart and Soul.") On Canary, the band's barroom blues and punked-up honky-tonk riffs combine with nonsensical lyrics and hearty, greasy vocals to create a nonstop tour of unhinged rock & roll. Overdriven slide guitar and soulful electric piano lay a solid foundation for the bizarre backwoods odyssey "22 Swamps," which centers on a chance encounter with a zombie moose. (The living undead are clearly a fixation for Fattback; its last album was called Briefly a Zombie.) Elsewhere, the revved-up funk of "Hey Pretty Lady (Take A Look At My Legs)" contains this summer's best pickup line: "Hey pretty lady, take a look at my legs!" Who can resist such bravado, either from a gentleman caller or a rock band?
These mostly jokey, absurdist songs would make Canary a one-and-done listen if the band's chops weren't so dead-on. Dave Hagerty (guitar), John Joern (drums) and Grady Breidanbach (keyboards) share the microphone, but they all possess a carnival barker's confidence as well as a high degree of control over their respective axes. The instrumental "Surfwax My Saddle," which is full of reedy combo organ chords and barbed-wire guitar licks, could have been lifted from some '70s spaghetti-Western soundtrack, and "Tow That Line" sounds like Little Feat on a meth-and-barbecue bender. Canary works by marrying never-miss grooves to rousing, often hilarious lyrics and, amazingly, the whole thing doesn't come off as a novelty.
—Christian Schaeffer, Riverfront Times, St. Louis, MO
From the opener “No Account,” you are immediately awash in swirling guitars that make you hold your breath. “Sorry” has a vibe that will make you remember the days of lying in your room with headphones on, hiding out as you wait to sneak off to a show. The musicianship on this recording is worth noting. Dave Haggerty and Sean Dalmeyer create the sonic bed of guitars. Mike Apperson’s in-the-pocket bass lines compliment the rock-steady thunder of John Joern on drums. Grady Briedenbachs keys weave a texture that fills the spaces with pure power. No longer are there any glitches in sound: This is serious music. Having followed this band from its earliest stages, I find Canary to be one of the finest locally released discs I have ever put in my player. The production quality is near perfection. Their first release (Briefly a Zombie, 2007) had high expectations and had many great tunes, but missed the mark sonically. The boys have a real winner with this issue; the album will stand up against anything dropping nationally right now. The music business has lost sight (or hearing) of this kind of recording. What Fattback has done is harness soul and emotion in a harder rock model and made that soul accessible through a variety of genres. After hearing this recording I am already waiting for the next one. Canary was definitely worth the wait.
-Dan Kinney KDHX 88.1 fm, St. Louis, MO