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Month: August 2003

Fairmont EP

Fairmont is a highly prolific indie band out of NJ. They soon will boast 2 full lengths and 4 Eps…all in under two years. This a prerelease/EP for the newest full length. They feature lead acoustic guitar, backup clean electric guitar, bass and drums. It’s a very fresh sounding mix, as we see here…

“Sometimes I’m Bitter” efficiently displays their acoustic-led melodic indie rock style. The vocal style is indescribable, and on some songs it works, and others it doesn’t. This is one where it works. Female backup vocals are a great touch, as they really make the song what it is: a rocking, pop influenced, catchy song. Introducing a higher, raw, and less focused vocal style is “True Love Waits”. This is one of the tracks where the vocals don’t work. The breakdown introduces a melodic percussion instrument, and shines as the best feature of this song. They twist the cliché very well. “Knock Me Out” features the acoustic sound most out of all these songs. All around, this is the best sounding song on the album, as the breakdown is satisfying, and the electric guitar work throughout is impressive. The vocals here are fantastic, and the backup vocals accompany perfectly. Every good emo band needs one, and “The Last Time…” is Fairmont’s classic breakup song. Midway through, it features a short but cool electric solo before lapsing into the lead riff, an electric melody with an acoustic fingerpicking. The vocals are medium here…not bad, but not great either. The lyrics have a nice tribute to SemiSonic in them, probably accidental, but I noticed it.

Overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable CD. Everything was great except the vocals. They were good, but they didn’t work in some places, which lowered the overall experience. Still, a spectacular indie rock CD. 7.5 out of 10.

Fairmont — Anomie

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

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.

Stereo Underground — S/t EP


Stereo Underground’s self-titled EP starts off positively punky on “Don’t Take It So Hard”. By the introduction of a second guitar and percussion give it a classic rock feel. The full song is a fresh sounding mix of both. The vocals are a mid-range, not high, but not low either.

A good drum riff, some electronic sounds, and vocals with effects create an ethereal, spacey feel for “Autumn”. A midtempo song, the classic rock vibes can be felt here as well, but not as strong. “So in Lonely” showcases the same classic rock style as the first song, but with smoother vocals, instrumentation, and production. Pop sensibilities are evident, as this song has great ‘yeah yeah’ background vocals and a catchy chorus. It also features an interesting instrument that sounds like a distorted harmonica.

“I Won’t Cry” slows things down by featuring an acoustic guitar. The verses are repetitive, but the chorus is great, filled out with second guitar and background vocals.

The lyrics on the album are nothing special, drifting between cryptic emo-style writings (Autumn) and more down to earth writings (Don’t Take It So Hard), but they touch on topics we’ve all heard before. Also, some songs were repetitive, but those are my only qualms with this. A great collection of songs, combining classic rock, space rock, and emo to create something cooler. 7 out of 10.

Carrie Went Crazy

Carrie Went Crazy…. Is a long and rather odd name for a band. While they may not be long, they are rather odd….wonder what I mean?

Well, it starts off simple enough. “Punk Song” is astutely titled….it starts off on a “we’ve-heard-it-all- before” punk riff. The vocals are really low…it’s quite uncommon in punk, so it’s a bit shocking, and takes getting used to. The chorus is a chain of vocal noises (impossible to explain) which are SO fun to mimic. The rest of the song is pretty cut and paste, but the vocal noises rule. The second half of the solo is creative and cool.

The title song of the demo and band comes next, and so does a COMPLETE change in styles. They move off to a reggae influenced dreamo pop. It works so much better than their previous style. The vocals here fit easily with the confusing lyrics, which I assume about the movie Carrie, but I’m not sure. By the end, the aforementioned vocals are repetitive.

‘Tea Party’ puts up a little faster, more upbeat take on the style. The guitar work, while dreamy, is less legato and feels more accessible. The vocals fit oddly….bordering on misplaced, making it the worst track vocally. The breakdown (if you can call it that) is great, with the bassist taking off and speeding up the song. The final song is “Here I Am”, the most heavily reggae influenced track. The song features some seriously punk lyrics about not fitting into society. Sadly, the vocals start to feel monotonous by the third song. The guitar style is a combination of the 2nd and 3rd songs, legato but separated as well. The guitar solos here are very good, subdued to fit into the song but still shining in their own right. The drummer also shows some major chops here.

On the whole, they excel at their dreamo-pop song styles. Their punk song is hilarious (if lacking musically), and their guitar playing is exceptional. Unfortunately, their vocals are spastic, good here, but not there, etc, etc. They could definitely improve. A good debut, I will be looking for more and better things by them. 6.5 out of 10.