by Jen Bender (@JennifaBenda)
Some bands are super tight, intensely focused on the quality of their musicianship; others are ear-splittingly loud and raucous, the kind of bands that play to thrashing audiences and who have the stamina and voltage to blow the power in a house basement. Some are both. At the intersection of this audible Venn Diagram is Full Body; and yes, I have witnessed them literally blow a fuse with the sheer power of their set.
Hailing from Rochester, NY, the Full Body boys capture a sound on their 2017 release What’s Good? that ranges from tender to tumultuous. Their sound is hard to pin down to one genre; vocalist and guitarist Dylan Vaisey describes their style as “indie rock,” throwing the word “angular” in for good measure, but the band ventures off into new territory with each track. Vaisey lists some of the band’s main influences as Mannequin Pussy, Spirit of the Beehive, Tundrastomper, and Attica Abasement, among many others. Guitarist Jacob Kotler and bassist Zach Hallenbeck add Elliott Smith, Big Fred, and Speedy Ortiz (I hear this influence the most on the track “Bready”) to this list, citing the band’s love of and attention to harmony. Though the list of their influences is long and full, somehow this wonderful mess of sounds and styles translate into something wholly unique and untouched in Full Body’s music.
Vaisey’s voice is as much an instrument as his guitar on What’s Good? He mirrors the emotional content of his lyrics in a unique and powerful way - when he sings “I can’t explain it/I feel elated/I feel renewed” on the track “Too Real.” I’m compelled to believe him. Uniqueness and honesty is also present in Full Body’s rhythmic content - drummer Jack Chaffer is meticulous without sacrificing energy, following every twist and turn in meter with powerful precision.
I like Full Body for many reasons - one is that I never know what to expect when I start one of their albums for the first time. Bored of convention and common time, they test themselves with tricky rhythms and unique melodies (like the riff at the end of “Leaf Green,” which gets stuck in my head whenever I hear it). Their insight on the world around them is grounded, with just tinge of that sweet Rochester cynicism (Vaisey opens the track “Cash Items” with the line “Who can you trust in this world?/Not your friends, not your T.V.). This cynicism is matched, however, by Full Body’s sense of true joy in their ability to create and to be heard, a joy that is present both in their record and their live performances. They’re the kind of people that will hand out ear plugs before their set, warning you of the incoming wall of sound and full body experience with friendly smiles on their faces.