Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The boys in Fake Problems don't give us uplifting too often. They keep it melancholy and we appreciate that unabashed depression, that lingering residence in a permanent state of stupor, of being on the receiving end of countless body shots. The thing about body shots is that they aren't going to result in any knockouts. They're merely the setups to an end, a softening of the body, good for a weakening, good to induce fatigue, but it's awfully likely that you're going to keep to your feet and you're not going to be waking up to the ceiling lights after losing some of your night to unconsciousness. So, you shake it off. You get up and you pretend as if you have the energy to keep persisting. It's the lesson we get from the stories within the songs of this young Florida band, all of which have the fumes of gasoline and antifreeze wafting from there - the direct result of the accident that must have happened right before we arrived at the scene. They take us into the smoldering aftermath of all of the bruises and the brawling, the puffy lips and the violet rings around the eyes, the tender ribs and the hard breathing. The stories - as well as those telling them - have been through the ringer and they've been flattened some, coming out the other side with a snarl and a whimper both. There's some dejectedness and plenty of defeat roaming through "Real Ghosts Caught On Tape," the incredible new full-length from a band that continues to find new ways to express its maturing angst and disillusionment. Lead singer, Chris Farren, seems to look into the open wounds that he finds on his own body - as well as inquiring about those that his friends and peers might have upon them - and determine if these are the kinds of wounds that are threatening or just the ones that put a little bit of hair on your chest as well as putting a knife into your back.
Many of the issues that Farren and the rest of the group (which includes, bassist Derek Perry, drummer Sean Stevenson and guitarist Casey Lee) take on are those that deal with the decimation of a person - even as they're in the process of developing who they might end up being when the paint dries and their legs stop growing - of the reduction of a man out to the thousandths, well past the horizon of that decimal point off to the left. We're reminded about how often we're faced with disappointment and how - no matter how old we get - it always hurts in similar ways as our skin never really gets thick enough to take it all in stride. We're reminded of the vast cruelty that is out there in the world at any given moment, ready to feast, to pick our bones clean if we let it. Farren sings, "It's a shame all the ways we build ourselves up just to let each other down," suggesting that there's a sad ploy in the air and we're the sorry perpetrators. We always will be the perpetrators and we'll always be the conciliatory folks on the other end as well, a real son of a bitchin' reality. And while Fake Problems, in its punkish, indie-grass way, don't give us many of those uplifting signs, they're still not ready to give up on all hope, singing on "Ghost To Coast," a beautiful lament: "You can't force a feeling and you can't conjure up a meaning without perhaps believing that you're good/Enough." We're all guilty for our own unhappiness.