Fitz of Depression

  • Fitz of Depression
  • Fitz of Depression EP (Mumble Something) 1989 
  • Fitz of Depression (Meat) 1993 
  • Let's Give It a Twist (K) 1994 
  • Pigs Are People Too (Negative Feedback) 1994 
  • Swing (K) 1996 

Combining the construction-zone screech-metal sound favored by the more caffeinated members of Olympia, Washington’s underground community with the deconstructionist philosophy of hired assassins on the trail of rock cliché, this trio resounds with a mightily unsettling force. Not quite as single-minded as, say, the Melvins or Karp, Fitz of Depression surrounds listeners with similar endurance-test parameters — with the additional dimension of a perplexing allegiance to new wave singer/songwriter pop.

The band’s early singles (including an eight-song 7-inch debut) gave rise to a lot of knowing looks, given the Fitz’s propensity for covering songs like Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309/Jenny” and Elvis Costello’s “Red Shoes” — in layers of feedback, that is. But even amid the radical revisions, there was precious little animosity in these outings. As evinced by 1993’s all-original Fitz of Depression (another eight songs, this time on a 10-inch), any hatred inherent is probably self-directed. Singer/guitarist Mikey Dees (Mike Nelson) — who possesses the most potent mumble/roar combination since Blue Cheer packed it in — propels misanthropic screeds like “H” and “Raw Sewage” into the midst of a boggling bass/drums tangle. Sometimes, he can’t be bothered to do even that, so a fair number of the songs turn out to be instrumental — most notably the mocking “Think of Words.” Unremittingly ugly — and that’s high praise indeed!

On Let’s Give It a Twist, Nelson wipes some of the sludge from the crevices of the Fitzmobile, enabling a faster zero-to-sixty acceleration, but tempering some of the neck-snapping lurches in the process. New bassist Brian Sparhawk (who replaced the more monolithic Justin Warren) is a catalyst in moving things along, particularly on heads-down Britpunk smashers like “Sitting in a Room” and “Power Shack.” Not quite as forbidding as its predecessor, but magnetic nonetheless. The non-stop fusillade of singles that followed exposed Nelson’s skinny-tie fetish to the hilt: not only did Fitz release versions of two different Costello tunes (“Miracle Man” and “Welcome to the Working Week”), the band went so far as to B-side the latter on a cover of Joe Jackson’s “I’m the Man,” wrapped in a copycat picture sleeve. As usual, the band puts on a more surly face for the larger-scale Pigs Are People Too, which reprises the metal-punk sound of Let’s Give It a Twist, but with enough nihil-delic heft to resurrect remembrances of Poison Idea past. Husky as they wanna be.

Swing shifts a dozen new songs, including “No Movie Tonight,” “Shimmy” and “Connect the Dot.”

[Deborah Sprague]