Sunday, March 2, 2008

FUJI MINX @ Safari Sam's

GRETA "GV" VALENTI - lead vocals / guitar
JOHN FRY - acoustic guitars
ROB ZERO - keyboards / programming
DAVE DORR - bass

Minx Angel "GV"

Their debut album, Users Cheaters Theatres, is a sonic landscaping of sensual melodies that encompasses the dark caverns of addictions to the open flame of redemption and hope.

In a rare performance and on an even rare rainy day in Los Angeles, Fuji Minx came out to play at Safari Sam’s last Saturday in what was sure to be an emotionally passionate and visual production.

Formed in 2003, front-woman Greta “GV” Valenti and guitarist John Fry played stripped-down sets for the first couple years, releasing a popular acoustic demo until finding keyboardist Rob Zero, drummer Noel McMurray and most recently, new bassist, Dave Dorr. And when they began work on their new full-length album, what began as an 18-month writing session about social world events ended in a 20-track album addressing their own inner demons.

Their debut album, Users Cheaters Theatres, is a sonic landscaping of sensual melodies that encompasses the dark caverns of addictions to the open flame of redemption and hope.

Broken up like a three-act play, the first act includes songs such as “Better Place,” and “Wasting Away” that deals with identity struggles of attempting to fit in while trying to find out who you are. Lyrically, Users Cheaters Theatres is like a lesson in tough love, forcing the mirror upon us to judge what we see or refuse to see. In “But No No No,” GV pleads ‘Why can’t we just be what we want to be,’ while in “Wasting Away,” she sings, “I found my heart today that I didn’t even know I had…Hid under clothes and light…It was an ugly sight…Oh man it was sad…I feel I’m wasting away…”

“We placed the songs in an order that tells a powerful story during the live shows, that we will enhance visually on our upcoming tour,” GV explains on the album’s three-act structure. “We’re trying to do something that will make your concert ticket a bit more worthwhile and perhaps do something you haven’t seen before.”


Act two shifts gears and throws us into a one-way ticket to self-destruction with “Cat Wine” about the road to addiction. In a feverish pace, GV launches into, “You really got a major hold on me …But oh I’ve been thinking it over there’s no getting over you…Well I’ve been jacked up on Cat Wine and I’ve been spun on the fine line…” And like the loneliness and abandonment that follows, “You Taught Me Well” and “Secret Agent,” conjure images of a desolate existence on an endless road whereas “Bloodsport” and “Train” mark the beginning of healing, fighting back and being able to face your demons.

The end of the third act is like a soft sunset blanketing the cracked desert floor with a soft orange glow. With ballads “Dumb,” “Bye Love,” and “Dead to Me,” Users Cheaters Theaters ends like a setting sun that promises a hopeful new day, proving that their most rewarding tracks are their more subtler songs. Take for instance “Bye Love,” an emotional sad song evoking images of a cleansing soft rain that brings a dawn of new beginnings which could reference the end of a destructive relationship with someone (or something):

“I can’t take you anymore…It’s the sound of the walk through the drive in storm…Well I’ll put one foot right in front of the other. Step into the light from out of the covers and I can’t take you anymore…Bye Bye Love…”


As proven last Saturday, Fuji Minx’s debut album, like their live shows are able to create a visual atmosphere, infusing songs with saturated tones of dark passion with the intimacy of a refreshing night wind. What’s most impressive was how close their live performance closely reproduced the vivid arrangements of Users Cheaters Theatres. GV’s dynamic yet dominating voice is complimented by the rich orchestration of Zero’s delicate patterns on keys while Fry’s subtle and intense guitar rhythms are like chips of rusty gold floating down a cool stream. Add to that the brushing beats of McMurray and Dorr’s tender bass and what you get is a well-crafted debut album that could have easily been too overpowering. But Fuji Minx holds back enough letting the emotion of the melodies and powerful lyrics speak for themselves. As Fry explains, while writing the album, the band made a conscious effort to write songs they could recreate live onstage.

Since its release last September, Users Cheaters Theatres has been named 2007 Album of the Year at Online Magazine’s Bullz-Eye and has had a full out assault on the indie charts, reaching #1 on the IAC charts for “But No No No,” “Better Place,” “Free Lorainne,” and “Cat Wine.”

Currently, Fuji Minx just completed shooting their music video for “Dumb” and they’re also fine-tuning their live shows for their upcoming tour which promises to be a visual sight!

For a debut album, Users Cheaters Theatres is a surprisingly sophisticated production. And like both the album and their live shows, Fuji Minx successfully takes us on a gradual, exhausting journey through hell and back punctuated by sophisticated ideas that gives each of us insight to our own personal demons.

Here's a cool video of Fuji Minx performing "Cat Wine" and "Free Lorrainne" at Safari Sam's. Enjoy!

Fuji Minx performing "Cat Wine."
courtesy of 405east

Fuji Minx performs "Free Lorrainne."
courtesy of 405east

Check out more pics of Fuji Minx's performace in the pics page HERE or at Fuji Minx's myspace page HERE.
WHEN & WHERE: (upcoming FUJI MINX shows)
March 20 @ Martini Blues (Huntington Beach)
April 10 @ The Mint