The first time listening to this record felt like finding a hidden treasure. Why had I never heard this music before? It's that good. It reminds me of the great rock music from the 90's and early 00's, with bands like R.E.M., The Jayhawks and The Replacements or the swedes in Atomic Swing. Even though Fendahlene definitely has their own unique sound and expression.
This is a double album released in 2005, combining 13 new tracks with 13 of the bands previous recordings. As the title implies, they were repeatedly close to reaching out to the big masses. Luckily for us, the music is available on all streaming services and on Bandcamp.
The opening riff in "Autopilot" sticks in your mind immediately. The stonesy "Drink it down" feels like the song with the highest hit potential, but all songs grow with every listen. "Lost for good" has a chorus with an unstoppable force and makes you sing along.
The vocals and storytelling in the lyrics is a vital part of the music, and it's an impressive australian trio that performs these songs. Paul Whitely on guitar and vocals, is backed up by Ashley Hurst on bass and Ben Felton on drums. The backup vocals make the choruses powerful, and in some songs a female vocalist helps turn up the intensity even higher.
The second half of the double starts with Glebe Point Road, a powerful rock song with soaring lead guitar. The chorus is a real killer. The band performed this as they headlined the Glebe Street fair in 2004.
A curious thing I find is that many of the songs are called something completely different than what you expect. This makes it a bit hard to remember which song you have in your mind at the moment.
The last track “Ballad of the Buick Man” is more experimental with a disco-like groove, extended guitar solos and vocals reminiscent of Billy Corgan in Smashing Pumpkins at times. The album has a great variety of songs, from acoustic ballads with americana flavour to riff rock, disco grooves and even gospel like hymns as in the beautiful “Something To Get By”.
Fendahlene has a new album out called “High and Low and Back again”, recorded in 2018 and 2019 at Urchin studios in East London. It might even be a better place to first listen to Fendahlene. Then you have the gold mine of this album to discover afterwards. Up to you of course, but you don't want to miss out on Fendahlene. Listen below.