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Fruit and Flowers - Drug Tax EP (2017)Every so often, one stumbles on something completely new and unexpected almost by accident and finds they’re hooked. That’s pretty much how it went for me and Fruit and Flowers: I clicked on a video and before I knew it, I was tracking down their debut EP, Drug Tax and trying to learn all I could about the band.

Not that there’s really a lot to know about them.

Fruit and Flowers is a quartet from Brooklyn playing what they call “surf-noir.”

Call it what you will, but their brand of surf-influenced rock is compelling and addictive: before I knew it, I’d played theDrug Tax  two or three times without trying.

Drug Tax opens with “Out of Touch,” a chugging rocker.

Here, singer/bassist Caroline Yoder’s vocals come out of haze, while the twin guitars of Ana Becker and Lyzi Wakefield propel the music along: Becker’s lead alternately slashing and darting between accents, with Wakefield’s laying a wall of fuzz. When the band kicks into a harmony for the vocals, everything comes together, a mix of 60s girl groups and current acts like Warpaint.

 

For a band who’ve only been together for a short time – Fruit and Flowers formed in summer 2015 – their music’s come together so quickly, they make it seem effortless. On the harder rocking “Subway Surfer,” they mix a stomping drum pattern against two lead guitars, crashing into the chorus like a wave – complete with shouts and layered vocals.

Drug Tax is filled with surf motifs and riffs, but for me the killer track was “Down Down Down,” a killer mix of hazy vocals and guitar fuzz.

“I love it when you bring me down, down, down,” shouts Yoder as the two guitars play off of each other and drummer Jose Berrio crashes around the toms. But things really kick into gear during the bridge: the band chants in unison, building up the tension until explodes into a Becker guitar solo and the rhythm section pounds and pushes the groove.

 

Throughout the 20-plus minute EP, Fruit and Flowers delivers: Drug Tax is a polished debut effort showing a lot of potential.

As noted, there’s a few points of reference to their music, but by and large, they don’t sound too much like any one of them. It’s a nice collection of 60-influenced guitars and vocal harmonies, with dashes of punkish energy and a moody, dark vibe. It’s fitting for summer, a time leaving you both drained and exhausted, filled with ideas and energy.

If you’re on the east coast, be sure to catch Fruit and Flowers live: they’re spending most of July on the road, hitting cities like Athens, GA, Toronto Ont., and Philadelphia. For everyone else, Drug Tax is out at the end of the month via Little Dickman Records. Make sure you give it a spin.

For more information on the EP, and to find out if they’re playing near you, check out their website: http://www.fruitxflowers.com/

Freelance writer and music fan, whose writing has appeared on The Good Point, The Toronto Review of Books, and CTV.ca, among other places. Favorite albums: Dig Me Out, Live-Evil, Decade.