New York City’s Fruit & Flowers just released their debut EP, Drug Tax. Fruit & Flowers have toured all over America in the last year, building a solid fan base as well as scoring instant successes at SXSW two years in a row now. The crowds they play in front of have been increasing by leaps and bounds as new fans tune into their highly original sound. They are currently crushing it on tour in the Midwest and Canada.
Little Dickman’s Chris Yaniak recently told me that their tour bus (Sylvia) looks like something out of a war zone. It is the most tagged up bus he’s ever seen, and they cross the country in it. God bless them. The band has been getting fantastic reviews and have been a featured act on TIDAL and Spotify playlists. They also did an Audiotree Live session recently. They were named the hardest working NYC band last year and are on their way to beating that title for 2017 as well. They have played about 100 shows this year already and plan on playing double during the following summer/fall seasons. Hard working and thoroughly engaging, Fruit & Flowers seem to have everything going for them.
The EP, Drug Tax, consists of seven original songs all in the three- to five-minute range. Chris and Amy sent me the link to the new music, and I wanted to take a listen to find out what all the buzz might be.
The first song up is called “Out of Touch.” The track immediately recalls tight images of The Breeders. Chugging guitars mix with colorful chord splashes and ice pick leads over the top of machine-like drums and throbbing tight bass work. Melodic and catchy, “Out of Touch” pumps from the speakers with all the vim and vigor of the best of the ’80s. The band consists of Caroline on bass and lead vocals, Ana on lead guitar and vocals, Lyz handles rhythm guitar and vocals and Jose (the only male member) pounds the drums. Each does a tremendous job contributing robust and likeable pieces to the song. Incredibly catchy, this is a great song to start the EP with and an overall winner in my book.
“Subway Surfer” comes next and combines a raucous punk attitude with a rock and roll fury of unheard proportions. Backing vocals are eerie and cool, shoring up Caroline’s powerful lead vocals as guitars tear supersonic blitzes of cacophonic delight over runaway bass and drums. Fruit & Flowers have their distinct sound, and it comes across in droves on “Subway Surfer.” Gnarly production and plenty of sizzle make for an enticing and addictive style when it comes to the compositional directive.
“Dark Surf” is up next, and it doesn’t disappoint. Warbling lead guitar lines mix with bass chords and ’60s drums while Caroline kicks into her ethereal vocal tone. Chords move across bass and drums like sidewinders in the desert as the band comes together to create an incredible piece of music. The middle-eight sees the return of multiple guitars (courtesy of Ana and Lyz) wandering and layering sheets of distortion-laced bliss across the song. Backing vocals mix with Caroline to emphasize choruses quite well. “Dark Surf” is a complex and delightful piece of punky, surf moxie and I love it.
“Down Down Down” pops up next. Hot guitars grind against bass and drums, delivering a spacey, echo-laden piece of punk rock compositional fun. Once again, Caroline, Ana, and Lyz all join to produce full vocal choruses and bridges. They sound right as a unit and the scream that Caroline lobs into the middle-eight sears the eardrums before Ana lays a blistering lead across the piece. Coming out of the lead and into the end, the girls gang up for an outstanding vocal chorus that just blows me away.
“Pick Fairy” is an extraordinary odyssey that combines the band’s punkish style with an abstract style of compositional expertise that’s hard to describe with adjectives aimed at other groups. This song is just so eerie and addictively refreshing. Fast-paced and sharp, the stops and accents make this song a top-notch contender in music today. Guitar riffs snake seductively as vocal harmonies wash over the entire piece. Ana blows out a scorching lead in the middle-eight over a signature Caroline scream, and it works well. Caroline’s vocals are smooth and clean, breaking over the top of the song and cementing “Pick Fairy” as a top favorite here.
The next song is the EP namesake. “Drug Tax” ramps up with all the attitude of genuine 1970s punk rock. The one thing I want to stress with this band is their vocal proficiency. Many groups go through the harmony game in a getting by way, but Fruit & Flowers can sing. And they use that talent to build their musical directive throughout the entire record. Their vocal abilities really come across on “Drug Tax.” Guitars lay harmonizing layers of distorted, tube-fueled grace across heavy bass and drums as Caroline leads the band into their musical journey to the center of your mind. Their information that was sent to me doesn’t say where the EP was recorded or who produced it, but I must say, they do a tremendous lo-fi thing with style and grace, pulling off a raw sounding product that has mass appeal and originality, and that’s what this is all about.
Up next is “Turquoise.” “Turquoise” is a dreamy, tremolo-laden exploration of the best kind. Guitars chatter through measures of staccato tremolo as Caroline dips and dives with her vocal prowess throughout. Great big swatches of guitar grunge are the dominant force here as Josie and Caroline back it up with a wall of solid support. Ana and Lyz are tremendous guitar players, and I love their combined style of attack. Analog delays whirl and synch under bass and drums and vocals. This composition is an orchestra of sound, melding distortion, echo, and rhythm with pristine vocal attack, and it’s my other favorite song on the disc. Hazy and trippy in nature, “Turquoise” is the representation of a band headed for bigger and better things.
Fruit & Flowers may be a new addition to the music scene, but from what I’ve heard here I can tell that their journey is just getting started. Talented players and engaging songwriters, Fruit & Flowers have much to say, and the bona fide means to say it.
Hats off to Amy and Chris over at Little Dickman for having the best ears for music in the East. Little Dickman is celebrating its five-year anniversary, and they’re doing it with a label full of the best bands around.
Fruit & Flowers is out on the road right now, but you will be able to see them on September 23 at the Mercury Lounge in New York City. In the meantime, go pick up Drug Tax over at https://fruitflowers-drugtax.bandcamp.com, or take a look at the band at the Little Dickman Records home page and on Facebook.