Filligar – Hexagon
by Cara McGrath (Graphic Design), published August 7th 2013
Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!
It is an absolute treat to discover a talented band during an opening act. Filligar first caught my attention supporting the Counting Crows alongside Good Old War in New Jersey last summer, though their debut album dropped long before in 2005. The four-piece, almost-family band of indie rockers left a lasting impression; I went home with a discography graciously autographed by the group.
Just one year later, with the release of Hexagon, the young Chicago rockers have put forth an album worthy of widespread recognition, though few may ever know it. Naturally, since the four have been playing together for over a decade, their sound has grown significantly from their earlier albums, on which many of the tracks were noticeably minimal. However, no huge developments were made since their last release, 2010′s The Nerve, other than the more apparent pull from assorted genres including blues, folk, alternative country and even hints of gospel.
Hexagon has several memorable songs, including the powerfully echoic “Lock & Key,” the slow and folky “Digging for Water” and the soulful new rendition of “Trepador,” originally from Succession, I Guess (2007). But the chief don’t-miss track is the album’s longest one, “Money on the Dark Horse,” which clocks in at nearly eight minutes. A 45-second instrumental introduction filled with shredding guitar eases into the wailing vocals and, of course, the infectious keys. Another two-and-a-half-minute instrumental interlude halfway through the song is where all four members’ skills are demonstrated supremely, especially Johnny Mathias’ guitar playing. “New Local,” the album’s opening number, is Hexagon’s other outstanding track. The lyrics are heart-wrenching and relatable: “I came a long, long way/ just to turn around / I came a long, long way/ for you to tear me down.”
Keyboardist Casey Gibson proves that adding a keyboard to the meat-and-potatoes guitar/bass/drums rock band dynamic can completely transform a group when done correctly. From his gentle, 30-second piano opening on “New Local” to his powerful pounding on “Trepador,” Gibson single-handedly makes Filligar what they are. Gibson’s contribution is what sets the foursome apart from any other indie rock band and could ultimately be what drives them into fame. Ironically, he is the only one in the band who is from a different bloodline.
Since someone as musically accomplished as Adam Duritz handpicked Filligar to join the 2012 Counting Crows Outlaw Roadshow, it only made sense that the band showed extreme promise. Hexagon may not be quite enough to become Filligar’s big breakout album, but it verifies that these four young men are headed in the right direction.
Recommended Tracks: New Local, Money on the Dark Horse