The Rock and Roll Report Band of the Week is Firebug

(Editor’s note: We continue our occasional look back at past Band’s of the Week over the summer with a trip back to February 2, 2009)

To set themselves apart from the crowd, today’s musicians that are looking for some popularity have gone from making the same old tired rock to making something that catches the ear of the listener. Whether it’s taking today’s style of music and adding some elements from other eras, or by adding instruments that have never really been popular in rock, the unusual has started to become the usual as some musicians want to revitalize music. It’s not the big record companies who are trying to bring some fresh ideas back to the music, it’s these musicians who are trying to stand apart from the crowd that are the ones who are keeping today’s rock fresh. One such band that’s making music that stands apart from most of what’s out there right now is the band FireBug.

FireBug consists of vocalist Juliette Tworsey, guitarist Jules Shapiro, bassist Adam Levy, and drummer Ty Dennis. The name comes from the color of Juliette’s flaming red hair. The band currently calls the area of Los Angeles home.

The four musicians have created a slightly different form of rock than most bands out there right now. With some of the instruments played by the members of the Fire Bug being a little unusual, the band has a fresh sound that might be just what you’re looking for. Aside from the usual guitar, bass and drums, other instruments that make up FireBug’s sound include the mandolin and slide guitar played by Juliette, the dobro played Jules, and the tabla that is played by Aloke Dutta.

The dobro, mandolin, and tabla may sound like weird instruments to include in rock-n-roll, but that’s the point: when no one else includes these instruments in their music, they help make FireBug’s music stand out. And although none of those instruments would usually be used in rock music because they are more instruments for music like Country, Bluegrass or even Americana, they are used to flavor the music and not change the feel. So the style of Fire Bug’s rock music is still very heavy at times despite the use of these instruments.

You can also hear other influences in their sound, which can be found on the band’s current release of Season For Change. Other influences that can be heard include Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, PJ Harvey, and several others. The album contains twelve tracks of music that never gets dull. Some of the best tracks on the album include, “Eyes Wide Open,” “Just Because,” a track that features Juliette on the mandolin, and of course, one of the strongest tracks on the release is the title track of the album.

Season For Change from FireBug begins with the track “Paradise”. The beginning of the track features the song of one lonely guitar and Juliette Tworsey’s voice. That guitar work from Jules Shapiro provides a gentle musical background as Tworsey sings about trying to see after being blinded by love. After about thirty seconds or so, the gentle feeling of the music changes drastically. What was once nice and gentle in the beginning of the track ends up being extremely energetic. The resulting track brings to mind early songs from Jefferson Airplane when that band was creating their most creative and psychedelic stuff. While FireBug’s music doesn’t have the same psychedelic feel to it that Jefferson Airplane’s music did, the energy created by the music still brings to mind energetic and rather groovy vibes.

With the title track Season For Change, the band stays with a rather energetic musical delivery. In fact, “Season for Change” features one of the most straight-forward Rock and Roll directions of any of the track on the album. The track once again features the electric guitar from Jules Shapiro as he helps to give the track a sound that falls somewhere between Modern Rock and Classic Rock. “Season for Change” ends up being perfect for today’s Modern Rock radio formats.

Another track to pay attention to on the Season For Change release from FireBug is the song “Eyes Wide Open”. Lead singer Juliette Tworsey is difficult to ignore with her flaming red hair. But as she sings the lyrics on the track “Eyes Wide Open,” her vocals are what the listener focuses on. The singer’s vocal delivery brings to mind that of Grace Slick from the aforementioned band of Jefferson Airplane. The clear, enthusiastic delivery from Tworsey gives plenty of energy to the track to balance out the relaxed, steady pace of the music of the track. “Eyes Wide Open” blends together a Modern Rock sound with plenty of Classic Rock sound to create something rather timeless in nature.    

Yet another song that the listener to the Season For Change release should pay attention to is the song “Breakout”. The track once again brings to mind the Rock and Roll that was so much a part of the sixties by bands like Jefferson Airplane, The Doors or even Janis Joplin when she was with Big Brother and the Holding Company. This track is as much about the musicianship of the band members as it is about Juliette Tworsey’s vocals as the track’s longer playtime comes from the extended jam that makes up the music on the track.

The Season For Change release from FireBug needs to be heard and now would be the best time to check it out live. The band is currently in residence at Skinny’s Lounge in Los Angeles. If you are in the area, take the chance to see the band while they are there. If you don’t have the chance to see them live at Skinny’s, check the band and their music out by going to the band’s website at www.firebugmusic.com.

Matheson