Album release: Failure Machine’s ‘Boy’ raggedly tight and gloriously fresh

Failure Machine
Failure Machine ‘s EP “Boy” was release March 11.
Photo by Clare Foster

The dopest soul music between the deserts swept hills of Reno and the cascading Sierra in Tahoe is a ragtag band of friends with the calling card of Failure Machine, and its newest EP “Boy” is as necessary for the soul as a party that lasts until sunrise.

What Failure Machine succeeds at best on “Boy” is making music fun and honest. Spencer Kilpatrick (guitar/vocals), Clint Philbin (drums), Zac Curtis (trumpet), Harry Mahony (saxophone) and Robbie Lynn (bass) are as tight knit as any group of musicians who eat, breathe and sleep music, from a house party to the bar. Doing their best impressions of Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett as a bunch of white boys in the desert, they have the gritty flair and energy of Black Joe Lewis, The Stone Foxes and a liquored-up St. Paul and the Broken Bones. You get the sense after one run-through of the EP that “Boy” is a natural expression of the group’s life together and it is autobiographical, if not in story, in the feeling and purity of the music.

This is the group’s second EP but “Boy” certainly raises the stock in Failure Machine as it has put together a white-hot, six-song offering that hits like a rush of whiskey under the fluorescent sin of Reno’s lights. The opening gunshot “Beautiful Scene” is one of the dirtiest soul songs in recent memory and Failure Machine’s no-holds-bar execution makes this song feel, well, perfect. Perfect in the sense you can feel Kilpatrick’s granite smooth voice vibrate your sternum, in the sense the horns’ pounding cadence leads you to thrash your head without abandon, in the sense Philbin’s groove lays deep in a velvety pocket. Kilpatrick’s guitar solo goes right for the jugular with his searing passion and a tone that will melt your face off. It is a really impressive song that has the potential to get Failure Machine listened to by the right ears.

The rest of the album is as raggedly tight and gloriously fresh as the opener would suggest. “Lonely” bops with the anxious yearning of a someone in need of a little TLC going to find it at the weekly rock show as Kilpatrick pleads over the rumbling rhythm. “Secrets” keeps the freewheeling party going at it’s start with lively horns and Philbin’s unrelenting attack on the floor toms. Halfway through, the song drops out and into a peaceful melody and settles there for a beautiful second, a nice little touch of musical thought before cruising to the end.

Failure Machine keeps the passion high on “Kiss Or Kill Me” as it surfs the surging rhythm of Curtis and Mahony’s horn lines. There is urgency in the duo’s bridge that echoes the talented Menahan Street Band and the Dap-Kings and synergizes with Kilpatrick’s elevated howls to produce a profound effect. “Innocent’ is the first real breath of air on the EP, and it is a seductively sweet blues song that sparkles in the moonlight as Kilpatrick is joined some alluring female back-up that rounds out the song smoothly. The closing “Too Late” builds on top of a crunchy guitar riff with blooming horns and Kilpatrick’s ascending vocals, who again adds a deliciously appropriate guitar solo that sets your head straight. The song just keeps blasting for the heavens and the band never looks back to earth.

Failure Machine is a diamond in the rough nestled into the Nevada desert that will starting shimmering a little brighter on the strength of “Boy,” it most certainly deserves.

Related story: Meet the men from Failure Machine. LINK

  • Failure Machine
    “Boy”
    Release: March 11, 2016
    Notable Tracks: “Beautiful Scene” “Kiss Or Kill Me” “Innocent”

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