The new EP from Austin, Texas Folk-Punk band Fire Ant Season. Half-hearted melodies, full-hearted tragedies, self-loathing and stuff.
Delivered to my inbox months ago and missed first time round Fire Ant Season nearly slipped through our net until on looking for something else I re-discovered them. See we do check everything we get sent (we get sent all sorts from Metal to dance to indie) for any virtue whatsoever and a space on the site. Not everything get’s past that step but occasionally some gems do sneak in.
Fire Ant Season hail from the ‘artsy’ capital of Texas – Austin. Famed for it’s amazing music scene over the years and ‘relaxed’ lifestyle. It seems word got out about Austin and an influx of hipsters and Californians has caused massive over-crowding, increased homelessness and crime and sky-rocketing housing costs. The sad thing is that gentrification eventually always destroys the very thing that made these yuppies in Vans trainers interested in moving there in the first place!
The guys celebrate their 10th anniversary next year and have released a handful of low-fi EP’s and one album, Shit-Eating Grin, back in 2017. You can get all their back catalogue via Bandcamp as a ‘name your price’ download.
Fire Ant Season is a two piece with Nate on guitar, synth and vocals and Tim on mandolin. Here on Bad Habits they are assisted on a couple of songs by friends but it’s all very much themselves alone. The EP begins with ‘Get A Life’ and from almost the first sounds Nate bursts into a diatribe about life in general and expectations put us by ourselves and others. The lyrics read more like a short story but are sung in a great style so that they fit the music perfectly. The music is fiercely strummed guitar and some very well played and tuneful mandolin so very simple but extremely effective. The vocal style generally stops short of being shouty but not always but Nate has a strong voice that handles the shouty bits very well. They are joined on ‘Depression Is One Hell Of A Drug Imbalance’ by Corbin Young on drums and while the title is a bit (!) of a mouthful it is again handled well with almost spoken word style and a few seconds of acoustic mayhem. Next up is ‘Privilege Blues’ and the highlight of the EP. I’m usually instantly “oh no!” and my eyes roll into the back of my head on first sight of the word ‘privilege’ but not this time. All the elements of the EP are at play but never do they work as well. Fire Ant Season’s style of music is not usually the most, for want of a better word, ‘catchy’ but they certainly managed it on ‘Privilege Blues’.
“Please pardon my mess as I verbally shit on each and every one of you, I empty my bowels by using consonants and vowels and yet some stay the whole set through. We’ve all got problems, we’ve all got issues and who am I to complain? I hold no reservations to extrapolate the reasons why I feel like shit today. And so that doesn’t excuse for me singin’ the blues when I don’t really have it that rough. I seem to confuse that my own self-abuse is just a way of being self-conscious. It’s a tired topic, as trite as always, but I can’t seem to get away from self-deprecation, but who am I kidding, I don’t have much else to say.”
Another friend Andy Chang joins them on banjo on ‘D.I.D. I Do That?’. The shoutiest song on Bad Habits and nice to hear some humour in amongst all the angst.
“When my only pastime is getting angry at coworkers in my head or sitting on the toilet for extended duration’s and I know that old adage, the rhyme, where the boss makes a dollar and I, a dime, but therein lies the caveat; that I’m still the one sitting on the pot.”
The EP wraps up with ‘Anhedonia’ and Nate gets all shouty to see us out. The song deals with the inability to feel pleasure or joy. Not happy music you would think but the music drifts along in that Folky but also Punky way that belies the darkness of the lyrics. The band said
“While we try our best to do things that we think are good for us, sometimes they can end up hurting us in the end. This EP addresses those bad habits and captures them in a sort of catharsis to hold them responsible for their actions to hopefully learn and grow from them.”
The artwork for the cover was by Grace Wilson (@trashcandollarts) and I’m very happy that I found this intelligent wee EP. The lyrics are clever and in these times when people have a tendency to ram things down your throats I find Fire Ant Season’s approach on Bad Habits a 100 times better and a 1000 times more original than that approach.
Download Bad Habits Bandcamp
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