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the pathetic caverns - music by artist - The Fever

eclectic reviews and opinions

The Fever

City of Sleep

(Kernado, 2006)

At first glance, The Fever's mostly monochromatic packaging -- a photo collage by singer Geremy Jasper, it turns out -- and 19th-century typefaces suggest a Decemberists rip-off. The Fever's songs often seem to be set in unspecified past decades, and they're peopled with vampires, grifters, and circus freaks, but any resemblance ends there. The Fever's influences are obvious enough -- the high octane blues of The Reverend Horton Heat, some of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' vocal histrionics, the clattery percussion (and prominent marimbas) of Tom Waits, a touch of Nick Cave's gravelly delivery and fondness for grotesqueries, and a booze-soaked aura common to all of the foregoing. City of Sleep requires some tolerance for kitsch, but fortunately the Fever usually put their songcraft ahead of the schtick. Songs like "Gypsy Cab/Down on Dog Street" are rocking and hooky no matter where or when they take place, and Jasper proves himself a strong and versatile vocalist. Some of the lyrics, like those of "Circus Girl," are slight and derivative, but City of Sleep also offers some vivid phrases like "a mouthful of moths sailing through the dark like a prison dart" (from "Eyes on the Road"). Keith Stapleton's guitar leads -- brief, with no wasted notes and several different viciously nasty tones -- are also particularly noteworthy.

This review originally appeared at Avoid Peril.


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