Perhaps a little kind bud is the necessary ingredient to finding pleasure in Feeding the Fire's lack of memorable melodies and abundance of deeply rutted grooves, sophomoric lyrics and expansive prog-rock pretensions. They're capable enough musicians—and maybe that's the rub. Great music is more often the product of spirited amateurs gutting themselves for the audience than heady, self-conscious displays of proficiency.
It's not all the music's fault, though, as lyrics deliver the crushing blow here, particularly on the so cleverly titled, "D'Nile," which attains a level of philosophical sophistication that rival Chicago's "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" and Rush's "Free Will." Over aquatic guitar that sounds like underwater whale calls, singer/ keyboardist Ken Cannon asks, "Can you really say now where you're going/ Can you say you even care?" before enlightening us with the observation, "There's going to come a time when just drifting will not do/ You'll have to choose a direction, where to go is up to you." While perhaps deep to those blowing off gym to sneak off to smoker's hill, those of us who've graduated high school are likely stifling a yawn. They'd be better off sticking with instrumentals and leaving the deep thoughts to Jack Handey. More examples? Done: The closing 12-minute tripartite suite, "The Life, Love & Death of Sucio Sanchez," begins with a delicious flamenco-flavored Latin sound, goes jammy, ponderous art-rock in the lyrical middle third, before (finally and thankfully) rediscovering the strong initial groove for the slow-burn final third, where Cannon's intermittent anguished croon is superfluous to the story the music tells. Some of this, like the shorter, rockier, wah-drenched "Ms. Brownstown," might work well in the live setting. Still, by and large, it feels self-indulgent and slow in development.
Feeding the Fire plays Local 506 Thursday, March 4, with Big Fat Gap and Rocket Surgeon. The 9:30 p.m. show is free.