Like a mutant folk-rock/power-pop amalgam from 1974’s re-imagined version of 1991, “Wasting All My Time” takes off seemingly in mid-riff, all forward motion and melodic processed guitar. And is it just me or is it both weird and comforting how the song on the one hand rocks reasonably hard but on the other hand seems only casually to display a rhythm section? I mean, there’s drumming, for sure, and there’s a bass (if you listen carefully!; I think), but they seem elusive for such an upbeat song—the percussion presents as almost an aural illusion, perhaps willed into existence by the guitars and the fact that of course a rock’n’roll song needs percussion (it’s got a backbeat; you can’t lose it). Intentional or not I’m finding the effect oddly ingratiating. Not that drumming is overrated by any means. But maybe a little.
And talk about an oddly ingratiating effect: listen as well (actually the two phenomena are connected) to how the duo of Mike Detmer and Jonathan Williams, doing musical business as The Spectacular Fantastic, manage somehow to turn the rhythm guitar into its own kind of lead guitar. All those crunchy-ringy accompanying chords you hear after the actual lead guitar moves out of the way seem not only to anchor the song percussively (thus allowing the drums to take a bit of a backseat; see above) but to my ears, give the song uplifting direction more forwardly than typical rhythm guitar work. Perhaps Detmer’s mixed-down vocal style contributes to the circumstance but it’s a fun ride and I have now over-analyzed it far more thoroughly than necessary. The song is a scruffy, well-crafted delight.
And hey are there any long-time Fingertips followers long-time enough to remember The Spectacular Fantastic from way back in the day? Two of the Cincinnati-based band’s songs were featured here in 2005, in June and in October. The band was a bit more of a band back then but not necessarily that much; it’s always been Detmer’s baby and I’m pretty sure Williams has been around for most if not all of it as well. Since 2002, The Spectacular Fantastic has recorded seven full-length albums and four EPs. The new one, Circling the Sun, released February 29th, is the first TSF recording since 2009. You can buy the CD via 75orless Records; the band is also distributing the digital files for free—you can listen and/or download the album here.