Heritage Hump Day: Fatigo - "One Block Away"

Every Wednesday is Heritage Hump Day! That's because every Wednesday from now to the end of the year or before someone really big stops us, Heritage Hump Records (a temporary subsidiary of Onus Records) and New Times will be bringing you a limited edition collector's item of a much beloved Phoenix band that walked the scorched earth of Arizona before the year 2000 A.D. We will honor that band with a commemorative digital single that you, the digital public, will have only seven days to download to your computers and smart phones before this single gets marked up to an exorbitant price as determined by the mp3 collector community. When that happens, a new Heritage Hump subject will be chosen and the free-for-a-limited-time-only cycle begins anew.

The names Mike Montoya and Fatiigo have appeared in the pages of New Times dozens of times over the years, most recently since Montoya (who now lives in Bisbee) returned to play a show at the Rebel Lounge in May. But it's the band's first appearance in the paper that Montoya remembers most. "You reviewed Fatigo's first CD back when New Times put local reviews with national reviews. I remember the Foo Fighters one was right under ours," he says.

In the interest of keeping you here on this page is that 2002 review of Per Los Chivos:

With all the music that's out there in this crazy world, any data beyond a band name and song title might seem superfluous. So give credit to local oddballs Fatigo for giving you even less information. Pero los Chivos!! contains no band data, recording information or even a thanks to Jesus. You have to surf the Web (http://theshizz.org/fatigo) just to find out what the song titles are. The album's selling through indie Web retailer CD Baby — at least somebody told them what the titles were.

Mike Montoya, John De La Cruz and Gill Guilia have the right idea, however. Singer Montoya's homely timbre recalls the monotonous John Flansburgh. Yet unlike They Might Be Giants, Montoya's humorous parables don't pack an obvious punch line. They're more like strange James Thurber drawings that leave odd impressions. "Rite of Passage," the album's lead track, turns a venomous snake bite into a community celebration ("Suck out the poison, neighbor/The village dance/Somebody call an ambulance..."). "Only a Lost Squirrel" is a jazz waltz about a package containing a live squirrel mailed to the wrong address. As far as musical questions go, no one you know has presumably ever asked, "Who's selling squirrels on the Web?"

Other oddities include "For the Alley," an ode to Mesa's Hollywood Alley, which breezes past like an incomprehensible Sesame Street jingle about the letter A, and the XTC-ish "Dilution Girl," which finds Montoya wondering why his lass can't drink beer that isn't watered down "like normal people do." Montoya prefers to speak for beleaguered voiceless species, like the proud pit bull bullied by his owners ("If I bark at the neighbor's dog, I'll be electrified"). The music veers ever slightly from stripped-down mariachi and Tejano to distorted low-fi Ween. Montoya's nylon string guitar and droning voice are the only constants, save for that nagging suspicion that you're always a cold beer behind these guys. Having outgrown playing gigs that require a sign-up sheet, Fatigo is now a closed-mike proposition. If your idea of rocking the house is more songs about insects and Frisbee parks, this lazy blend of pathos and bongos should rock your house like a noisy evap cooler."

This week's Heritage Hump cyber single, selected by Montoya, is a song that wasn't even mentioned in that review, "One Block Away."

"That's probably the oldest and most representative. What is it about that song? It's kind of a "one that got away" love song. I was 23 when i wrote it and it kinda marked a change in my songwriting from rocking to storytelling. It reminds me of the studio apt I had behind the Tempe Stinkweeds with thin walls and and from what i could hear, very in love neighbors." 

"This song was myfirst time collaborating or playing anything together with Robin Vining (sweet Bleeders, Colorstore, etc.) .He's the accordian and elec guitar. He wrote the accordion solo on the spot and it's been played the same since then. It's not the tightest sounding music, especially compared to what was on the radio in 2000. Anyhow I think part of Fatigos sound is that we're not always airtight but we try to stay interesting and human. And we've definitely kept our sense of humor. By the waym have you ever given a dog a potato chip? It's a weird thing cause that's a very human sound coming from a dog."

KIds, DO try this at home!

Fatigo is scheduled to perform on Friday, September 18, on their home turf at the Bisbee Grand Saloon with Carlos Arzate and The Kind Souls.

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