'Fat Ol' Rat'
Somewhere along the Erie Canal, a bit west of here, there lives a quartet of musical ruffians who call themselves Folkfaces. Comprised of guitar, saxophone, washboard, upright bass, and other stringed things, this Buffalo band of eight years has mastered old-time jazz with a progressive twist, and has a reputation of unapologetically turning tradition on its head. Folkfaces' new album, "Fat Ol' Rat" is a turbulent 15-track rollick, full of wit and charm, equal parts polished and wild, with an undeniably high caliber of musicianship that has grown this band to what it is today.
The album plays out a bit like a summer night at the Grange, or whatever would be the modern-day equivalent to a place where people go to dance the jitterbug. Imagine café lights that are strung from the ceiling and the only piece of furniture in the room is a table, carrying a bowl of mystery elixir. Under a makeshift stage light, an acoustic guitar revs up in a fury of syncopated scratches, as a washboard that sounds like tap dancing do-si-dos with the string bass. A saxophone lets out an exuberant howl between dulcet vocal phrases that pour out like warm gravel. Layers upon harmonious layers weave effortlessly through each song and don't stop until the album winds to an end.
"Fat Ol' Rat" is Folkfaces' longest work to date, and is a fun ride from start to finish. Throughout the album, dust flies and settles in a congruent motion with the ebb and flow, joining jittery dance tunes with downtempo waltzes. With or without its references to "The Mighty Genesee' and 'Rochester Rag,' this album is a local gem, a soundtrack for kicking the dust up.