Thursday, August 10, 2017

RECORD REVIEW: Fort Misery "Like Hell Lately"

Fort Misery
Like Hell Lately

Stumbling across this treasure
unexpectedly, a year after it's
initial release, was kinda like
checking a book out from the
library and discovering a crisp
five-dollar bill tucked inside.

I didn't see it coming. I thought the recent Orlando concert was gonna be strictly a five-band, punk / metalcore showcase. I thought wrong. Wedged between a fistful of high-energy, sweat-soaked, garage-bred combos was, of all things, an acoustic duo. "Ugh, this is gonna suck," I thought to myself. I thought wrong — again. In fact, by the second song of their set, my mission was clear. There were no other options. I had to head over to the ol' merch table and buy the Fort Misery record pronto.

Intended simply as a solo music venture for singer / songwriter, Justin Ross, Fort Misery also features guitarist, Christopher Ryan. And the chemistry shared between the two musicians onstage translates nicely into the digital grooves of their six-song debut slab.

Christopher Ryan ( L) and Justin Ross (R) - live in Orlando.
(August 2017)
Produced at Orlando's CCB Studios by famed Capstan guitarist, Harrison Bormann, Like Hell Lately is a seemingly honest and transparent-sounding record, offering personal snapshot glimpses into Ross' real-life experiences and struggles.

Combining Justin Furstenfeld-flavored sentiment with Adam Duritz-style phrasing, "Ghosts" and "Storms" are both riveting odes to dysfunctional relationships. "Ugly is as ugly does," indeed. Possessing the pop sensibility of Vertical Horizon's disturbed little stepbrother, "Scabs" also shines as another of the record's highlights. "You say you pick your scabs cause true wounds never heal," doggonit, man — that's good stuff! One of the record's most compelling lines is offered in the song, "Monsters," when Ross writes, "All those monsters in your bed make the skeleton in your closet seem less dead."

What separates quality singer / songwriters from the chumps is whether or not you care about the storyteller and if he or she can hook ya with amazing stories. With Like Hell Lately, Fort Misery succeeds at both, quite nicely.

-Christopher Long
(August 2017)

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