Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

The New Dress-Where Our Failures Are Red Leader Records

February 1, 2008

The New DressWhere Our Failures Are

Red Leader Records

A down-home acoustic duo kicking it punk-folk style.

Bittersweet enough to avoid being cute, but simple enough to still be endearing, The New Dress’s Where Our Failures Are is enchanting. It’s rebellion against the system in the form of harmonies that are a little bit folk and a little bit punk, but mostly the child of the obviously talented duo Bill Manning and Laura Fidler.

Even though a man, a women and a guitar is hardly a novel threesome, The New Dress makes you forget that anyone else has tried it before with their ability to create raw harmonies that seem to embrace reality and hope at the same time.

It’s a little bit of a lot of things. In songs like “Setting Off Alarms” it’s about politics, it’s about Bill and Laura’s outcry against current events. In songs like “Thanks, Claire,” it’s about love, and it’s love sung by a duo who, if you believe the earnest honesty in their voices, really seem to mean it.

And in every song it’s about positive, clean guitar strumming, catchy melodies and lyrics that try to capture life as it is. Like Bill and Laura, often our thoughts are of our own problems, not “of the war, or with the poor or my right to choose, or all the battles that I was to lose, or the news of abuse, or the use of the ones I love as tools.” The music of Where Our Failures Are is honest, universally appealing, and it claims an agenda that’s not too hard to like.

In a world of entertainment filled with the extremes of real life tragedy and Hollywood fantasy, it’s refreshing to hear two musicians who find a moderate hope in life, even despite their intention of “setting off alarms and planning bombs instead of songs.”

Hannah Kokjohn

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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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