31 Jul 2021
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Cafe Fistfight - Single Review: Pocket Change

16 Feb 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

Cafe Fistfight describe themselves as New Zealand's premiere Acoustic-driven Progressive Rock band, with their music fitting in somewhere between John Mayer/Six60 and Incubus/Tool. To be honest, that is probably as good a description as any, but before someone expects to see the latest Yes, Genesis or Pink Floyd clone, be aware that when they describe themselves as progressive, they mean it in the true sense of the word, in that they are blending and mixing  genres and pushing the music in unusual directions. That they do it all wrapped up in a completely melodic and commercial ribbon bow is even more remarkable.

Holding it all together is Daniel Barker, and while he is more than willing to put in the fills, it is his snare which really keeps it all together. On bass is Jesse Hudson, and while he is not the first guitarist to switch to bass, he was actually a lead guitarist as opposed to rhythm and was the person who convinced Ben Ruegg to take Channeled into the live scene and was the original guitarist for that. This means he has an innate sense of exactly what melodies and counter melodies are required for the overall sound, so his bass is often more than just underpinning while he is also invaluable as the band’s producer. 7-stringer Josh Barker has his own solo project in Stealphish while previously being involved in far more metallic bands, yet here he restrains himself from turning everything into a metalfest but can bring the fire when required, and at the front is Chris Moutter. Chris is not only a great singer and frontman, but is also an excellent acoustic guitarist, which allows the band to switch and pivot musical styles, just as they have on their latest single.

I have heard Pocket Change a few times at gigs and is one of their songs which always makes me smile while I am listening to it. It is more laid-back than much of their material, with an inherent groove and singalong quality which is perfectly suited for an Aotearoa summer. Chris is always at the forefront of what is happening but surrounding him like a blanket is the warmth and protection of everyone else, as it is the combination of all four which really makes this stand out. It does not have the edge it normally has in concert, but in this context, it works really well, with Chris being allowed to shine. As it comes near the end it is just him for a few bars, then everyone comes back in, before leaving him on his own again. It is the use of sections within songs, even short ones, that is one of the things that makes this band stand out. This may not have the stop and go element of much of their material, but when it ends it really leaves the listener hanging, waiting for the boot to drop which never happens.

Here is a fine example of an Auckland rock band refusing to conform to what anyone may expect from a band who often finish their set with a song about a baked flan or tart with a savoury filling thickened with eggs, usually eaten cold. They have produced a song as fit for radio as it is for the live scene, and surely it can only be a matter of time until the mass media realise just how good these guys are. I know they are having discussions about gigging with Outside In, and that is a gig any lover of serious music just cannot afford to miss.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Cafe Fistfight

Cafe Fistfight are New Zealand's leading Cafe-themed Acoustic hard rock band. Nourishing the soul and enriching the eardrums with bopping classics like Service with a Smile and King Hit Quiche these four fellas are sure to get you back for seconds.




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