The Foghorns – To the Stars on the Wings of a Pig
(2011, Knick Knack Records)
Count this review as another in a long line of conflicts of interest here at the Blog ‘o Wax. The Foghorns are a Seattle by-way-of-Wisconsin outfit led by one Bart Cameron, who happens to write for this fair site and be an all-around good egg. Cameron’s Foghorns, from a distance, play traditional American music – touching upon country, folk, and even gospel with notable skill, taste and restraint. Get a little closer and the songs on To the Stars on the Wings of a Pig, the band’s latest LP, reveal themselves to be funny, bitter little laments about the hell that is other people and, quite frankly, ourselves. Despite the context clues of traditional instrumentation and standard folk song structures, the Foghorns craft savvy, biting reproaches more in line with Dylan’s “Positively Fourth Street” or Lou Reed’s Sally Can’t Dance than a knee-slapping hootenanny. “Je Deteste” combines a smattering of French lyrics with a dusting of honest creepiness via lines like “little girls, oh how they do confess/and when they do they whisper/ so they keep you guessing.” “More Than Jesus” is a jaded homage to carnal delights while “Wedding Bells” teeters between a lovelorn lament and a callow kiss-off. “We Could Never Be Friends” expresses a delicate, refined sense of resignation. It’s a mature, satisfying bummer of a song containing the best line on an album full of good ones: “Well I been to your parties/the only truth at your parties/comes when the party ends.”
The Foghorns’ songs are thoroughly American songs about disappointment, screwing, being shallow and finding some kind of peace with being flawed. To the Stars on the Wings of a Pig is a quietly stunning piece of work and, on beautiful blue vinyl, an album worth having on hand for whenever the mood strikes. The Foghorns will be playing an early (like dinnertime early) show at the Comet this coming Sunday, September 25th.