At its heart, The Fly Rods is a rock and roll band, plain and simple. Their music is loud, and their songs are plain spoken, unapologetic, and heartfelt. Their EP, Catch and Release, follows their M.O. to a tee. Lead singer Don Bazley touches on a variety of subjects over the course of the record’s six songs. The hometown anthem, “Come Back Home” pays tribute to Ithaca as only a song that mentions The Chanticleer can, while songs like “21st Century Police State Blues” give a healthy dose of political angst, rousing the rabble as rock and roll has always been meant to do.
Ultimately, Catch and Release delivers on its promise. In some ways, it delivers more, in others a bit less. The album, while maintaining a DIY grit and self-produced honesty, also boasts an above average melodic sensibility. Are there any real ear worms on this EP? No. But infectious melodies aren’t exactly the point. It may take a few listens to memorize each song, but none of them feel melodically dissatisfying, and in fact bare a resemblance, when paired with Bazley’s voice, to The Rolling Stones. The band is very tight overall, and there’s a real sense of unity on this record. This band is committed to their sound, and their recording shows it.
One downside to this album is that the lyrics occasionally slip out of the plain spoken category and into what can be perceived as laziness. “Days of Dogma” is a notable offender in this fashion. Verse one contains some promising poetry but soon slips into banality: “What will we leave our sons and daughters? / Should we let these companies come and defile the water and land? / It won’t be safe to drink the water / and that is something that we can never get back again.” Juxtaposed with “21st Century Police State,” which presents a fantastic brew of understated poetry, “Days of Dogma” sticks out as one that seems not-quite-ripe. However, the song’s overall message may be its saving grace in the eyes and ears of many. Its anti-corporate message and references to the fracking controversy strike me as distinctly Ithacan in nature. Like “Come Back Home,” it may be a song more geared toward Ithacans and find its success with them.
Overall, I find Catch and Release a satisfying little endeavor. Some may point to the lack of variety in the track list as a potential flaw, but at six songs, it’s hard to get bored with it. Quite contrarily, at the end of the record, I find that I want more. We can only hope that The Fly Rods will grace us with a full length sooner rather than later.
Favorite track: “21st Century Police State Blues” balances understated but powerful lyrics with raucous distorted guitars in a way reminiscent of Bob Dylan tracks blended with early punk. The song’s big chorus and gritty, DIY production is sure to please fans of Ithaca’s underground rock scene, and sounds like it belongs alongside any classic rock track of its type.