Fern Mayo – Hex Signs (EP Review)
by Steven Spoerl
Full streams from Yours Are the Only Ears, Foozle, Izzy True, The Blue Mooners, Blesst Chest, Cool American, Heavy Drag, and Adam Remnant all found release over the past week and while all of them are worth multiple listens, it was Fern Mayo‘s new career highlight, Hex Signs, to grab this post’s featured spot.
Fern Mayo’s been in these pages quite a bit in the past, thanks to the happy forever EP, their solid live show, various members’ contributions to the A Year’s Worth of Memories series, and their sibling projects (Fits being a great recent example). However, everything always seems to tie back to Fern Mayo, who have been steadily improving as musicians and songwriters over the course of the past few years. Hex Signs, the trio’s latest effort, may only run three tracks but it hits with a staggering amount of force.
Kicking things off with “Pinesol”, the trio sounds reinvigorated, sharper and a lot more focused than they did only a year ago. Guitarist/vocalist and principal songwriter Katie Capri resumes the role of driving force and sets about creating enough momentum to transform into a red-hot wrecking ball, with Brian Orante’s drums and Nicholas Cummins’ bass urging her forward. It’s a reckless and occasionally euphoric track that ranks among the band’s finest work, allowing it to function as both a burst of searing adrenaline and a perfect introductory piece for the uninitiated.
“Pinesol” sets the tone for the two tracks to follow and neither feel out of place, continuing to propel Hex Signs forward with a near-manic sense of unchecked aggression. The EP’s longest track, “New Ketamine”, is perhaps the most representative of the band at large. A unified bridge between the band’s past and present work, the track navigates around several territories but never quite loses its sense of purpose, creating moments that touch on nearly every dynamic that’s been key to the band’s success in the process.
Closing Hex Signs out is “Moonshine Kingdom”, which has been a staple of the band’s live show for some time. Riding an insistent riff at a quick tempo, the song increases the EP’s velocity as it hurtles towards a massive climactic moment that contains just about enough energy to create a gravitational whirlwind. There are a small hosts of other miniature explosions to be found in that track that all lead up to those final exhilarating moments, giving the entire affair the feeling its stability could collapse at any second. It’s a thrilling finale to one of the most memorably vicious, off-kilter EP’s to have emerged from the basement pop (and basement punk) circuit this year. Cue the storm, ignore the tethers, and get carried away.
Listen to Hex Signs below and pick up a copy here. Watch an early live rendition of “Moonshine Kingdom” below the embedded bandcamp player.