Friday, September 24, 2010

FDF Volume 3: Issue 201 - Therapy? Troublegum

By: March

Album - Troublegum
Artist - Therapy?
Key Players - Michael McKeegan - bass, backing vocals. Fyfe Ewing - drums, backing vocals. Andy Cairns - lead vocals, guitar.
Produced By - Chris Sheldon

Release Date - February 7, 1994

What caused me to blow off the dust?
- Therapy? is a band that is widely unknown here in the United States. They have tired to break through but have had very little luck. The band can still be a marquee act on festival stages overseas

Overview - This is the second major label album from Belfast, Northern Ireland based band "Therapy??". Initial the band said the question mark was meant to be "deep" as in "do you need therapy?" but the honest truth is the band needed to better center the name on albums. The band, who formed in 1989 would rocket to success quickly in the UK but US audiences would fail to garner much interest. The band would lose key members, be dropped by their label but pay out of pocket to stay on the road and always continue to soldier on and they are fast approaching their 15th album release. Metallica would personally ask the band to perform with them and the band is preparing to do shows that will perform this album in its entirety. The album made the "Shortlist" for the Mercury Prize in 1994, and was ranked #31 in Kerrang magazines 100 Best British Rock Albums ever.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - Ewing hammers out the intro on "Knives" as the buzzy guitar punches you in the gut. The band wastes very little time showing what they are all about. This trio hits it all hard. Cairns howls over the top and McKeegan gives the bass a good punch as the song is a quick in and out exercise in metal. There is a short guitar solo over a wall of screams before Ewing strikes the snare with authority before it all comes back in, and before you know it the track ends. Hardly a moment passes when the drums are right back in your face and "Screamager" begins. The "twap" sound of the drums is over the top and Ewing rolls the toms before Cairns gives a good double wall of guitar. McKeegan once more punches the bass over the driving tempo. The great intro is really a solid bed of music so they return to it after the chorus. Cairns once more runs a quick guitar run as Ewing makes steady work of his drum kit. With a scream of guitars the song ends and it segueways right in to "Hellbelly". One guitar is over dubbed, with the next. A choppy run of guitar riffs over some phased guitars. Ewing and McKeegan once more provide a rock solid back beat. Come the chorus everyone hits overdrive and its a barrage of sound. Like many "trios" you always have to say "wow, such a big sound from three members". The band never seems to let up and do a chant that leads into the second chorus. Backing vocals are not overly prevalent, but from time to time you catch them. A guitar solo is run, but Ewing holds court and it stands out what he does. They seem to slow it down some, with the vocals becoming hushed, yet still sounding like Cairns gargled with razor blades and it all comes running back up. It just won't let up. Big monster guitar and bass riffs open "Stop It You're Killing Me". It has this "hugeness" to it and you think the tempo is laid back, but Ewing counts it off and before you know it, you are in for another assault. This is one of "the" Therapy? songs. It has everything that had me fall in love with them. Big guitars, pounding drums and a rumbling bass mixed with great lyrics that really get you going. Even the vocal and instrumental break down later in the song hold your interest because it is not this same old "rinse/lather/repeat" style of song writing. You want guitars, we got em..and Cairns gives you his all on the intro to "Nowhere". A quick and swirly guitar buzz over the one two punch of McKeegan, who has the bass punched up nice in the mix, and Ewing. The drum lines are not overly complex, but one can appreciate the speed and heavy handed drumming style, the band has just NOT let up on the album. The band works with a little off tempos again, but are quick to keep the focus on. If you like guitars, this is really a record for you. No flashy guitar work, just in your face playing. "Die Laughing" has a big, full intro but seems to have a slower tempo at the outset of the other tracks. Cairns is a little more laid back on the verses, but come the chorus the lines of "I can't remember my own name..I think I've gone insane" the band gets to that good full sound and the backing vocals are more present. The guitar solo leads up with a choppy run, before a more focused guitar solo is played while the tempo is kept in check. The band all comes up vocally and Ewing slaps the kit hard as they bring back the big huge stadium guitar riff and sing the chorus a few more times. "Unbeliever" continues with that big guitar sound you've all fallen in love with by now. The mix is up on Ewings kit on this track all the while the bass rings out under it all. It is a more mid tempo song for the band, if there is such a thing, and it contains all the formulas the band has worked. Cairns has his longest guitar solo on the album here, but it quickly goes back to the focus of the tune. Ewing rolls the drums again and the the guitar slowly builds with a wall of feedback on "Trigger Inside". It feels a little slow to build, but once it gets started watch out. The bass is punchy across the bottom and Ewing hammers the kit per the norm all the while the vocals are blended nicely. McKeegan has a very short bass burst at the mid point of the song, its a simple note just punched at the listener. There is an interlude where the guitar is feeding back off the big wall of riffs before it all runs rampant. It sounds like dueling guitars on the same opening riff as "Lunacy Booth" starts. Again the tempo is not as quick as some of the others on the album but it still doesn't lack the heaviness. Lesley Rankine (Silverfish/Rank) offers a very strong female backing vocal with some howls and then harmonies. She adds such a great vibe to the song, and the tone that Cairns gets out of this guitar is to die for. As he sings "your just the same as me" over and over as the track fades you'll be hitting the "last track" button. The band takes on Joy Division for a cover of "Isolation". The dark and brooding song has the same feel as the original but the guitars and drums are a little more urgent than the original. The bass has a good drive on it and the cover is quite strong. "Turn" has a big guitar opening (shocker) but again is more of a mid tempo track for the band. The rhythm section continues to shine, holding it all together as Cairns gives the big rock arena vocal delivery. The band uses a second backing female on "Femtex". This time it is Eileen Rose who is not heard until the final verse/chorus but she adds a great feel to track. Future member Martin McCarrick plays cello on "Unrequited". The song has a a quick burst of guitar and the cello has these huge "slides" going on at the intro. The band is out of their mind frantic on this track. It tries to mellow as it leads to the second verse with he cello leading the way, but Ewing wants nothing to do with mellowing out so the band takes off once more. They do this a few times with strong results. The album wraps up with "Brainsaw" a great album closer that continues with the same tenacity as the big rockers on the album. A hidden track (or extension of Brainsaw) comes in with "You are My Sunshine". The song is sung and then the word "away" is stuck like a skipping record. This runs for over 20 minutes...sheer torture honestly.

Where are they now?
- Fyfe Ewing left the band in early 1996 saying he was tired of touring. The band has since had a few members (all on drums) but also added a second guitar player/cellist Martin McCarrick (whom has also since left). In November of this year the band plan to release a two disc live album called "We are Here Until the End". If any Irish readers are out there (or anyone else that can get this cd for me) that might be able to get me a copy (I'll pay for it of course) please let me know.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience)
- Therapy? has not graced the US shores very much, and when they do I am sure to be there. The very first time I saw them was opening for the Rollins Band (FDF Looked at Weight) on May 12, 1994 at Avalon in Boston. The band was back on August 17, 1996 at Axis playing a blistering set. The opener cancelled and Therapy? just laid it down. My favorite part was being up front and having a blast and bassist Michael McKeegan stopping between songs saying right to me in his thick Irish accent "You know all the fucking words mate!". Somewhere in between those shows Therapy? opened for TAD (an FDF look at Infrared Riding Hood) at Axis, but I don't have a stub for that show so I am unsure of the date. I think it was the tail end of the Nurse tour, but I am not 100% sure. The final time was May 12, 2001 at Bill's Bar in Boston. That show was just awesome. The band was doing a very short US tour and they really laid it down hard. I met the guys after the show so that was a thrill. The one funny part (well not funny) was that on stage Andy said "Its been 6+ years since we've been to Boston and America...we promise you it won't be six more next time!". Still waiting Andy....still waiting.

FDF Overall Take - As a fan of this band it is easy to sit here and wonder why the band hasn't made it in the States. There is very little to NOT like. If you like a big sound, that is on the heavier side, this is a no miss collection of songs. Honestly, if you can track down any of their cds and you like the style of music there is really very little to NOT like. I'd love to see them get some recognition in the States, at least so I could see them live again!


Official site is here

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!
If you put just about every track in to you tube you'll have a match. Here are just a few.

Knives live - here.
Screamager live - here
Isolation live - here
Die Laughing w/Tom Jones doing the intro - here
Trigger Inside - here

Buy the record here

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


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