Rocket Men 

Salt Lake City’s Form of Rocket get burly on their new label release, Men.

Ah, the changing face of Form of Rocket. It’s been three years since the Salt Lake City rock band released Lumber on New York indie Some Records. The band went touring, heavily, crisscrossing the United States with fellow locals New Transit Direction (who signed to Some a year after FoR) as well as nationals like Strung Out and assorted others. We sat and waited for them to become SLC’s own Fugazi.

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Four months after Lumber was released, singer-guitarist Jensen quit the band to attend college. Founding member Eric Bliss returned, then left again. In came Gentry Densley (Iceburn, Smashy Smashy), ratcheting up FoR’s already hefty guitar attack. Jensen heard the new jams, wanted back in and became the lead vocalist … only to join the Peace Corps, leaving Dodds, Makowski and Densley to split vocal chores.

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Understandably, Form of Rocket have tired of telling this story. What remains is their favorite topic: Men. Out now on Chicago indie Sickroom Records, it was written and performed by almost everyone involved in Form of Rocket from its inception, including Bliss (writing) and Jensen (vocals, writing). It could have made for a disjointed affair, but the 10 tracks are burly, feral, incisive and hilarious'so good you might call them awesome. Some things never change.

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Form of Rocket’s track-by-track dissection of Men:

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“This is Occupation”: One riff and a Curtis Jensen poem was the germ for this 85-second spasm whose refrain, “This is the end of all things planned for” is prescient, given FoR’s arc. Says Densley, “I showed the guys the riff I came up with in the studio the day of or day before recording and we just roughed it out. Andy Patterson helped us massage it, and we had Curtis throw down on top of it”

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“Go Get Your Buck”: A little context goes a long way on this bloodlusty travelogue about a hunting trip. “We’re all big sports Men,” says Dodds. “We can’t miss the elk or deer hunt each year. It’s quite ‘deer’ to our hearts, thinking of a large mammal choking its last few breaths and drooling thick, red pools of blood.”

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“Teapot Dome, Bitch”: An angry tale of blue-collar angst and domestic violence, its minute-by-minute build mirrors the temper of its protagonist. Says author Densley, “I remember this show … Curtis had the whole crowd pounding their fists to the chorus, I’m sure they didn’t understand the words exactly. After the song, he said, ‘That song’s about beating the fucking shit out of your wife.’ It was all downhill from there.”

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“Keep Smiling Ed Smart”: A fierce appraisal of a certain kidnapping case. No build here; Form of Rocket get right down to business with a 10-second distorted bass riff, then floor it.

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“Dar Un Luz”: Leave it to Form of Rocket to set “a piece on love and loss” around two lovers melting from exposure to the Chernobyl incident. Labored breathing (an iron lung?) gives way to spooky ambient guitar, which becomes something like an alarm. Its composition, says Densley, is influenced by (read: “lifted from”) Debussy. Classy.

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“You’d Look Cute in the Trunk of My Car”: Not a date-rape fantasy. According to Dodds, it’s “Peter’s fish tale. He likes to go fishing, apparently, and thinks sadistically of them suffocating in his trunk on the drive home.” Musically, it’s about as bluesy and simple as Form of Rocket get, conjuring AC/DC through a Fugazi filter.

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“Gearth”: Dodds’ tale of a lonely farmer whose kids never call is sweet and depressing. He’d come to view one of his animals as a confidant, then lost it along with the farm. Think that’s heavy? The last half of the song is the heaviest 5/4 I know of,” says Densley, who’d know. “I think there’s less math and more craft here as the band has matured.”

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“The Greatest Day”: “Curtis had his gall bladder removed,” says Dodds. “During the diagnostic stage of his ordeal, he had a digital rectal examination. He felt somewhat used after the doctor left him there on the examination table without so much as a hug or a kiss.”

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“Dogfucker”: A lovely acoustic non sequitur. Makowski: “We always like to throw an extra track on our records, something a little different. So I wanted to write one for Men. “[This] is about a guy whos first girlfriend changed his life forever. She took him home to show him how her dog makes sweet love to her.”

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“Peter Makowski Had an Aneurysm”: Originally titled “Peter Makowski Was Having Sex and Hit His Head on the Wall While Having an Orgasm.” Fair’s fair: What does Makowski have to say for this skull-crushing rock anthem that Densley describes as “Skynyrd crashing a plane into a Guitar Center?” “Let’s just say it’s a love story about a man who hurts himself during a sexual encounter causing blinding headaches,” offers Makowski. “That’s all I have to say.”

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FORM OF ROCKET
CD Releases
Urban Lounge
Friday, Oct. 20, 10 p.m.
& Kilby Court
Saturday, Oct. 21, 7 p.m.
FormOfRocket.com

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