Well this was unexpected! Brittney Dixon – promoter, booking agent, former GM of The Court Tavern – has put out one of the year’s more pleasant surprises with The Road to Letting Go, the debut EP by her five-piece band, Finding Feebas. Taking cues from The Distillers, early Paramore, and old school DC hardcore, Finding Feebas has managed to put together a collection of surprisingly infectious pop songs with a punk rock heart!
Late of her previous project Wolfasaurus Rex, Dixon had long operated in the margins of the music scene as a performer, always putting that after her duties as a promoter and manager. And while Wrex’s 2015 EP, RAWR was promising, the band’s premature dissolution did Dixon’s ambition no favors. But now that she’s free from the The Court Tavern and its 70+ hours per week obligations, she’s free to finally set the monster loose!
The Road opens with lead single “Tire Pressure Low,” a whip-fast blast of energy propelled by guitarist Nikki Karwacki’s chugging guitar. Dixon declares that she’s “Doing everything for everyone / Except for my damn self.” On the page, it reads with a pinch of humor. But in song, and over the remainder of The Road to Letting Go, the line is practically tattooed to the band’s forehead. All those nights of empty rooms, bad shows, and bands showing up late only to leave immediately after their set. It’s something one feels when they have none of the power but receive all the blame.
Dixon regains control on “Blood in the Water,” returning like a video game heroine with one life left in the queue. Sharks pulled her under, but she’s back now; paying no mind to those who have done her wrong. She might not be sure exactly what’s next, but she knows that whatever it is, it’ll be all hers. The ante is upped on “Reality vs. The Dream,” when she sings “I don’t want to die like this / without knowing what it’s like to live.” Thematically reminiscent to Lowlight’s recent “Nights and Weekends,” “Reality…” is what happens when those nights don’t go according to plan and instead of doubling down, you opt to walk away; all of this over a killer locomotive Karwacki guitar riff and celestial keyboards.
While “Grape Nuts” seems a little lyrically on-the-nose, a closer listen reveals a tiredness with insecurity as Dixon confesses “I’m so sick of wearing this goddamned disguise.” This blink-and-you-miss-it-fast song is pushed along by drummer/producer Matt Menafro while Alejandro Ataucusi provides a mathy guitar lead that hides just below the surface of the mix.
These days Dixon has seemingly found her peace. After an ambitious attempt to get back into the music scene full-bore, she has pared down significantly. Now, she only promotes one show a month, choosing instead to focus on writing and her life away from music. The EP’s final song wraps the bitterness and struggle up in one perfect line: “I’m not even sure / That I’m sorry anymore.” After bringing one of the state’s most legendary music venues back to life, being named one of the most influential people in NJ music, and now helming this dynamic, exciting, and invigorating new band’s first release, there’s only one thing Dixon should feel: proud.
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