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Stomp and snarl

Olympia five-piece Quayde LaHüe make hard rock with fearsome fervor

What is an FFOBR, and is Quayde LaHüe one? Photo credit: metalarchives.com

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I've spoken countless times about my fascination with the ever-expanding list of granular subgenres in music, as well as my fundamental inability to keep track of them all. There truly is no country for old men, and even at 28 years old, I count myself among the elderly when it comes to filing and identifying every admirably specific genre peppering the musical landscape. The internet's ability to provide instant expertise to anyone willing to do a little digging fosters a culture of mixing and matching, allowing artists to further splinter music into a daunting kaleidoscope of very particular sounds and styles.

For the most part, I don't roll my eyes at this accelerated evolution, though I do find myself occasionally puzzled by new terms. Such an instance happened recently, when I noticed a listener on Bandcamp describe a band as "FFOBR." After a little research, I discovered that FFOBR is an acronym coined by music journalist Paul Rote in 2015 to describe an emerging trend that he'd noticed. The half-winking term stands for "female-fronted occultish blues rock." It's nothing new for music nerds to turn a phrase in order to put their finger on a sound - before I was even born, my mom came up with the derisive acronym MORDOR, or "middle-of-the-road, dance-oriented rock," to describe a certain type of band she couldn't stand.

FFOBR, though, seemed to be a vanishingly narrow subgenre. By Rote's own admission, some of the bands to which he assigned this shorthand were displeased with it, though most seemed to take it in stride. Then, there's the matter of whether the band I was listening to even qualified as an FFOBR outfit. The Olympia five-piece in question, Quayde LaHüe, certainly possesses a witchy quality that would fall in line FFOBR, as Rote defines it. As for the blues rock, Rote opens that up to include the hard rock of bands like Led Zeppelin, in case anyone was worried that they were being compared to that awful band Blueshammer from Ghost World.

When it comes to labeling bands, I've come to shy away from singling out gender in my descriptions. So-called "girl groups" were reductive enough, FFOBR does ride that shaky line. What I can say about Quayde LaHüe is that lead singer Jenna Fitton brings a fearsome intensity that's matched by Jonny Wulf and Tim Diedrich on guitar, Reuben Storey on bass, and Peter David Connelly on drums. On their self-titled debut EP, Quayde LaHüe come out stomping and snarling with "I Am Unworthy." Their main reference point seems to be the ‘70s, back when heavy metal and hard psychedelic rock were entering the mainstream and becoming codified. This fury is ratcheted up even more on the next song, "Love Wins."

If Fitton and company were to keep up the same fervor over the course of the EP's six songs, one could see it becoming exhausted, but Quayde LaHüe wisely know the right moments to cool things off. "Same Old Song" is a lovely, chugging little number that preserves the band's muscularity, while polishing some of the rougher edges. The dual guitar lines are reminiscent of Thin Lizzy at their prettiest and most contemplative.

Now that I've done my level best to perpetuate FFOBR as a term, it must be pointed out that the listener that labeled Quayde LaHüe as such was none other than Rote, the man that coined the genre. Can't blame a man for being on brand. Something tells me, though, that Quayde LaHüe is a band that has no need for limitations. If their debut is any indicator, this is a group that to make howling, invigorating music that's at its best when it's catching you by surprise.

Quayde LaHüe, w/ Dealer, RIP, 9 p.m., Wednesday, May 3, $7, Obsidian, 414 4th Ave. E., Olympia, 360.890.4425, obsidiantacoma.com

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