When the name Bastards of Fate was passed along to me, I assumed they were a punk band. I was positive in fact, that they were a hardcore punk band with stage antics in line with G.G. Allen’s. I pictured a front man who cut himself on stage and projectile vomited on the audience. It really sounded like my kind of band. When I actually received the record, it came with a vampire slaying kit. The kit was housed in what seemed like a red Crown Royal bag and came with a wooden stake, holy water, garlic, and a letter from the man himself, Van Morrison. That’s right, Mr. Astral Weeks was apparently a legit vampire hunter, and the only ones who knew it were the Bastards of Fate. Upon seeing this vampire slaying kit, I assumed the Bastards of Fate must be some shitty death metal band that takes itself very seriously, yet they remain a joke to everyone who hears them. Thirty seconds into the album, it became clear, The Bastards of Fate have the indie pop sensibility of The Shins and the out there feel of Fank Zappa’s Two Hundred Motels. The singer doesn’t look like the self-defacing punk I was anticipating. In reality, he looks very similar to Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, with the black horned rimmed glasses and all.
The Bastards second album, Vampires are Real and Palpable (hint the vampire slaying kit), is there first for This Will Be Our Summer records. Vampires really is an album for record collectors and music snobs. If I threw this album on during a party, it would clear the room. This isn’t because it’s a bad album. On the contrary, it’s pretty damn good, but it’s fucking weird. Again, this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s what makes the album worth your time. It takes effort and thought to get into this album. It’ll take you multiple listens to even start to appreciate Vampires, and you’ll hear something new every time you give it a listen. It’s an album you won’t be able to justify to all of your musically vanilla friends because the Bastards of Fate is some far out there Ben and Jerry’s combination that hasn’t even been dreamed up yet. I haven’t even addressed the experimental sounds that permeate the album. Sometimes it’s ambient noise that rears its head, sometimes it’s old cell phone ringtones, and sometimes it’s disembodied voices.
Vampires open with “Winter of Our Discontent,” an indie track that a torch singer would croon if they were working in a bar that catered to mental patients. From there the album quickly picks up into power pop on tracks like “Go No Further” and “Chromosome,” but it’s power pop filtered through the lens of Zappa. “Identity Theft” and “Ultimate Death” plays with the same deep foreboding backbone of early Interpol. It’s the Bastards bizarre take on these familiar sounds that make them an exceptional band. The Bastards walk a fine line between avant-garde and indie power pop. The Bastards are from left field, and you’ll want to leave the dugout and join them because while they’re edgy, there is something extremely comforting about the band. The Bastards are unknown but familiar. Frankly, if this is the direction of modern art-rock, then I’m on board. Even though it wasn’t the punk I expected, the Bastards are my kind of music.
Vampires are Real and Palpable is available from the Bastards website:http://www.thebastardsoffate.com/. The cover is a fairly generic picture of a building. There is nothing telling about the cover, and there is nothing telling about the vinyl itself (it is standard black). It’s the perfect façade for a band like the Bastards. With the LP, you’ll get a digital download. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the vampire slaying kit, but I honestly can’t say that it will come with every LP. I don’t know if I would rely on it when a vampire breaks in at three in the morning, but it’ll be a definite conversation starter.