If you live in Lexington, KY then you know Chico Fellini. You know Emily Hagihara’s bass, Brandon Judd’s drums, Duane Lundy’s guitar and Chris Dennison’s voice. Most definitely Chris Dennison’s voice.
Perhaps Lexington's most ambitious band since The Scourge of the Sea, Chico Fellini has been going full speed ahead since their inception in 2006. Shows haven't been abundant, yet they have spanned the country, with the band playing CMJ and any of the local and regional dives that were worthy.
Though they had been hard at work for over a year polishing and perfecting their sound, the band seemed to have truly come into their own through their preparation for and their performance at Lexington's Beaux Arts Ball in 2008 (they will reprise their victory with another set at this year's Beaux Arts!). Only one who has attended a Beaux Arts Ball can understand the magic that takes place there. It’s an alternate reality with everyone in a costume of their own making, engaging in what seems to be a nonstop dance party, with the drinks flowing freely… it's impossible to describe and a tragedy to miss. To imagine what it must be like on that stage with hundreds of the most devout fans that money couldn’t even buy, could blow one’s mind. The result skyrocketed Chico Fellini into the studio to finish writing and recording their super ambitious, self-titled debut album.
Chico Fellini consists of nine songs in total, running a mere thirty minutes in length. Though the album is brief, it packs an undeniable punch. Chris Dennison’s vocals are undoubtedly the star, ranging from operatic to soaring falsetto; Dennison covers the bases that no one else does. He seems able to channel a thousand genres with one note, creating a sound and style all his own. Dennison’s vocal style and range bring to mind some sort of androgynous alien being, whose goal is to simply rock our socks off! Imagine Antony Hegarty (of Antony and the Johnsons) at his weirdest, David Bowie at his most theatric, and Matthew Bellamy (of Muse) singing his hardest and you might have an inclination as to what Dennison is capable of.
Of course, Dennison is only part of the equation. Without his band, his voice would fall flat and thin, and that is what makes Chico Fellini such an impressive machine. No one can exist without the other. The four work together for one common goal; it is a dark, persistent, pulsing, and forever melodramatic goal, which they reach hand in hand. With Lundy’s piercing lead guitar, never too shy to make its way to the forefront, and the thundering, yet understated bass and drum work laying everything down and then keeping it all in check, no stone is left unturned.
Fact is, Chico Fellini is not for everyone. The androgynous but overt sexuality of these songs aren’t fit for the faint at heart and despite the fact that songs like “Despite The Mix Up” and “Electrolyte” are just as infectious as any current pop offering their non-traditional delivery and content will leave some folks scratching their heads. However, somehow I don’t think that appealing to the masses is anywhere near this band’s goal. Simply put, their quirks and theatrics will inevitably drive some away while endearing them to others. Which one are you?
Chico Fellini - self-titled
1. Despite The Mix Up
3. Can’t Deny
6. Down The Up Ladder
8. No Strata
Chico Fellini will be released to the world Tuesday, March 24th and the band is having their CD Release Party at The Dame in downtown Lexington tonight, Saturday, March 21st!
Saturday, March 21st
At The Dame
156 West Main St.
Lexington, KY 40507
Doors at 8 p.m.
Show at 9 p.m.