Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Fairmont-Wait and Hope

January 1, 2007

Band Name: Fairmont

Album Name: Wait and Hope

Best Element: Fantastic Songwriting

Genre: Indie-rock

Website: http://www.fairmontmusic.com

Label Name: Go For Broke Records

Band E-mail: fairmontmusic@yahoo.com

I take Fairmont for granted. I’ve gotten so used to Fairmont putting out a really good album every year or so that I almost forget to stop and praise the album like I should. To me, Fairmont is one of those bands that even if you don’t listen to them for a while, they’re still there as one of your favorite bands. They transcend the curse of “out of sight, out of mind,” and that’s incredible when you take into account how many bands I hear every year.

Take the title track of their latest album, for example. “Wait and Hope” starts out with a slick piano/bass riff accented by simple drums and Neil Sabatino’s wonderfully unique vocals. It graduates into a stomping diatribe before getting quieter into the infectious centerpiece of the song that’s delivered not with an exuberant explosion, but a pensive, wry smile. It’s completely unexpected. They throw in a solo section next, where a harmonica is featured in addition to guitar. It’s the sort of song that is so completely comfortable and accessible that it seems like you’ve been listening to it forever.

Part of this songwriting prowess comes from the fact that Neil Sabatino has been writing bitter, guitar-minded indie-rock like this for a long, long time. As the central figure in Fairmont, he shines throughout as lead vocalist and primary songwriter. From the stomping riff in “Suspicion Haunts the Guilty Mind” to the menacing “Tuesday Night Danbury” to the wonderfully charming and perky closer “Andy Goldfish Dreams of the Ocean”, Neil Sabatino changes up the mood with ease throughout, giving the album the amount of twists and turns it needs to keep a listener’s attention for 12 songs. One thing stays the same throughout, though: they all demand to be sung along to. And it’s not the type of sing-along quality where the whole song is an excuse to have a monster chorus (although “Today I Was Thinking About You” almost commits that sin)– it’s the type of sing-along where every single part of the song is just so well done that you want to hum everything. I memorize these types of songs very, very quickly, and so will you.

Sabatino, for all of his songwriting variety, doesn’t change up the mood of the lyrics. He prefers instead to keep a generally sneering and bitter mentality with the occasional shot of guarded optimism to temper the otherwise bleak landscape. Titles like “Happiness is a Million Miles Away,” “Lack of Luster” and “Since Day One I’ve Been Plotting Your Death” prove the former, while “Today I Was Thinking of You” proves the latter.

But it’s not all Sabatino – the duo of Hambone and Andy on bass and drums provide a very important and solid backdrop for Sabatino’s guitar and vocals. Hambone’s bass antics are especially important on the title track, while crashing bass and drums make “Fredo” the impressive song it is.

Fairmont is the cream of the crop when it comes to guitar-based indie-rock, and they prove it with Wait and Hope, which is guitar rock done so impeccably that you can’t help but love it. If you like literate, intelligent indie-rock with a great attention to detail and a liberal dose of attitude, Fairmont will be in your corner. If you don’t, well, Fairmont can get you interested in that sort of thing.

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@hotmail.com

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

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