Foghound, Quick, Dirty and High: Opening the Van Door

I’m not entirely sure what Baltimore riff-rocking four-piece Foghound are referring to with the title Quick, Dirty and High for their late-2013 self-released debut. If it’s meant as a reference to the songs themselves, it’s not entirely accurate. They’re plenty dirty, and stoned enough to earn a Fu Manchu comparison in their fuzz, but the newcomer outfit don’t seem to be in any particular rush. “Get in My Van” builds to a fairly raucous conclusion with some double-time snare hits and there are other parts throughout that speed things up as well, but all told Quick, Dirty and High clocks in at nine tracks/46 minutes and most of it resides at a comfortable-seeming mid-paced roll, straightforward both in its intent and presentation, captured by producer Frank “The Punisher” Marchand. Variety comes into play throughout the grower hooks of “Resurrect the Throwaways,” “Long after I Die,” “Slip Away” and “Get in My Van” (which, one assumes, is a boogie van) through the vocal arrangements, which find guitarist Bob Sipes mostly in the lead role, but readily backed by fellow six-stringer Dee Settar, who also comes to the fore on “Dragon Tooth,” bassist Geoffrey Freeman IV and drummer Chuckrock Dukehart III, all four contributing throughout the songs at various points. The effect that has is to change things up, and though the underlying structures of some of the material might be similar, each cut manages to showcase a personality of its own, which is harder than it sounds and all the more so on what remains a mostly straightforward album.

Chalk that up to the strength of the songwriting, which is really what Foghound have most working in their favor. The riffs are choice across opener “Easy Come, Easy Go” — the ride cymbal start of which had me flashing immediately to Clutch‘s “Earth Rocker” — and down through moodier, doomier closer “Buried at Sea,” if familiar in their purpose, and what brings the best results on Quick, Dirty and High is when all four players are headed to the same place. “Easy Come, Easy Go” would seem to be of the Orange Goblin, “Some You Win, Some You Lose,” school of stoner rock fuck-it attitude, but the riff is pure late ’90s Fu Manchu. That comes up again on “Gotta Go” (not a Roadsaw cover), but “Resurrect the Throwaways” leaves a more individual impression, if somewhat vaguer in its lyric. There’s a swaggering sensibility in the riffing of Sipes and Settar, and both Freeman and Dukehart prove essential to carrying the groove beneath the wah leads that bridge the verse hook, percussion and backing vocals resting low in the mix but present enough to be felt. Somewhat morbid in its immediate, “Long after I Die” follows “Resurrect the Throwaways” with likewise infectiousness and guest vocals from Dan Soren of Sixty Watt Shaman fame that veer into rougher, almost growling territory. It’s unexpected, but it works in the song, which is the longest on the Quick, Dirty and High at 7:42 and further distinguished by a mostly-instrumental jam that fluidly executes loud/quiet changes and hits its stride around the 5:30 mark with a sense of unhinged Sabbath-ness that does quick justice to Church of Misery. Yes, that’s a compliment.

“Gotta Go” winds up something of a comedown after “Long after I Die,” but “Slip Away” revives the thrust in its classic heavy rock brashness and finds Settar with an increased prominence in the chorus. Likewise, her voice is probably the only thing keeping the insistent rush that caps “Get in My Van” from being almost absurdly creepy, and though it’s caked in echo, the Dio Sabbath nod with the line “In the misty morning…” that begins “Dragon Tooth” does not get lost. “Dragon Tooth” is perhaps Foghound‘s most effective stylistic shift on Quick, Dirty and High, since although its initial riffing is much in league with the rest of the material, the churning tension that emerges in the verse and Settar‘s echoing lines over it call to mind some of Venomous Maximus‘ semi-ritualized sensibility. It’s a welcome turn, and fits in the overarching flow of the album in following “Slip Away” and “Get in My Van,” though it might have been put to even better use in following “Resurrect the Throwaways” or “Long after I Die,” expanding the scope of the full-length earlier rather than later. With “High Rider” following, a short burst of a song that’s perhaps most where Quick, Dirty and High feels most interested in hitting all the marks of its title, it seems somewhat out of place where it is, whereas a direct lead-in to the brooding finale might’ve made for an easier transition.

These thoughts are ultimately moot — the album is finished — but stand as testament to the need for and the development already of an editorial presence within the construction process. If Quick, Dirty and High comes across as uneven, well, it’s Foghound‘s first release, even if it’s presented as a debut LP as opposed to a demo. What matters more is that the foursome establish an intriguing dynamic across these tracks — one that only gets more intriguing with the added complexities of “Dragon Tooth” and the faster/slow movement of “High Rider” into “Buried at Sea,” which also boasts a guest spot from Soren — and set themselves up for future growth while already impressing with their songwriting acumen and eye toward arrangement. At its core, Quick, Dirty and High‘s title sells it short, and what Sipes, Settar, Freeman and Dukehart wind up with is a collection of quality initial movements on which to build their next time out. The largesse of their fuzz by the time they get around to the undulating low end of “Buried at Sea” speaks even more to their potential, and the more time I spend with that song in particular, the more I hear a bridge forming between the stoner rock thrust of “East Come, Easy Go” and “High Rider” and the classic doom for which Maryland is renowned. There’s hammering out to be done in terms of their processes, but Foghound give clear indication on their first album that their blend of West Coast fuzz and East Coast crunch is a work in progress. I’ll look forward to hearing where that progress leads.

Foghound, Quick, Dirty and High (2013)

Foghound on Bandcamp

Foghound on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Foghound, Quick, Dirty and High: Opening the Van Door”

  1. Lost&Unknown says:

    Great stuff like always guys. Please visit my new blog.

    Good luck

Leave a Reply