Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Fairmont — Anomie

August 2, 2003

Best feature: Diversity, beauty, and originality all rolled into one.
Genre: Indie Rock
Label: Reinforcement Records
Website: www.fairmontmusic.com

Fairmont is one ambitious indie rock band. They sport electric guitar, acoustic guitar, drums, and no bassist. Just to add to the challenge, their genre of choice is a highly stylized brand of indie rock, ala Elliot Smith and Joseph Arthur. With the odds stacked against them, it seems that Fairmont has given themselves an ultimatum: become indie rock gods along with Smith and Arthur, or fade off into oblivion.

I can, in good confidence, vouch for the former.

Anomie is basically divided into two sections: the first half a dose of high-strung rock, the second a brilliant session of low-key mellow songs. The first half of the album is solid, with their interesting, quirky rock taking the spotlight. The second half is where they really shine, as their mellow picking, tempo jumping, and strong command of melody and countermelody come to the focus.

Their rock is complex in various ways, from odd chord progressions to multiple vocal tracks to weaving guitar lines. It sounds cluttered, but they do a good job of pushing the most important elements to the front without diminishing the power of the backing elements. This makes it focused and extremely aurally pleasing.

The vocals here are another distinguishing feature. Equal parts pinched yelp, nasal whine, over-the-top vibrato, and slurry notes, it is the definition of unique. It takes a couple listens to get used to, but in the end, the vocals are irresistible. They are most unique when he’s convicted about what he’s singing, such as in “Sometimes I’m Bitter” or the emotionally charged “Burn the Churches”.

When he accompanies more mellow fare, his voice is lower and more pop-friendly, which makes for some truly beautiful songs (“Knock Me Out”, “2:37 a.m.”). In fact, “2:37 a.m.” is one of the most heart-wrenching songs I’ve heard in a long time, as the hopeless lyrics, the forlorn vocal delivery, and delicate arrangement work together in an eerie way.

There are many moments like that on this album, moments where you just stare in awe at nothing cause the sound is just so perfect. “The Last Time” has a stellar ending, “Artemis” has a riveting chorus, “Saved Me” has an excellent intro, the entire 48 seconds of “Hello Kitty” are fantastic, and the list of moments goes on and on.

This is an album that should be everywhere. It should be in every indie-rock fanatic’s player, and burned to every computer. This is an album that will have your head spinning. The members of Fairmont are on their way to becoming indie rock gods in the eyes of the public. I know they’re already immortalized in my mind.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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