Monday, June 3, 2013

Fairweather Friend on Fort Lowell Records

Shoegaze is a deceptively easy genre. You would think that layered mess would be easy to create, just turn everything up almost into peaking volume with chorus and/or delay and/or reverb and/or sustain chained together and play the simplest melody. Fortunately that’s not the case, it’s an exacting, precise way to construct tracks with an impressive level of understanding of the technology to hit that balance between pure atmosphere and layers of distortion. It’s a tightrope walk of recognizable but impossible to pin down melody that asks the listener to decipher the static wall of haze. Fairweather Friend in Tucson, AZ, the latest Fort Lowell release is creating a lush pop shoegaze informed by its ‘80s peak in the style of Modern English and The Psychedelic Furs.

A-Side "You and I..." - Minimal shimmery choral electric notes open this up foreshadowing the shoegaze wall to come. The guitar bursts into higher tremolo notes extended into infinity above this pounding drum track. Lead singer and guitarist Kevin Unwin comes in with a unique delivery rhythm that’s especially typical of that late '80s doubled up huge sound. This sound is continuously riding right up to the lip of the epic plateau and sliding back down the curved surface into the valley of booming rhythm and verse of Kevin’s wavering baritone. Like the Church or even The Stone Roses the real work is in reminding yourself of the overall picture. They have a huge vision that builds out of innumerous pieces and obscure timings in a mathy technique. As carefree its nonspecific notes and melody seem its actually highly specific and technical. You have to put a huge amount of ingredients together in just the right proportions, like the difference between baking or throwing everything into the pan at once. The end of this keeps growing bigger and bigger into the inevitable sunset of emotion and ringing sustained guitar tones.

B-Side’s title track “Fairweather Friend" starts with fast tempo booming drums and the serious production of elements having been carefully examined and EQ'd. Kevin’s lead vocal might have more layers of effects this time, doubling himself in a kind of chorus harmony. Fairweather Friend excels in building a very obscured sound that’s inherently likable. You can’t help but get swept along with the built in emotion of soaring guitar foundation. It even sounds like the ride cymbal, which is always shimmering, can’t escape a wash of effects in unison with this warm swatch of guitar without a hint of jangle. It’s a sodden summer Sunday late afternoon companion, the satisfying close to another day, the most memorable part of the journey is this clear optimism. That guitar is transformed into a bell chime, ringing out over every layer of this track, a sustained a memory related to the church on the cover...those clouds visible on the insert are obviously about to disappear.

On clear purple vinyl with download card, the cover is an austere black and white photo of Mission Church San Xavier del Bac on glossy cardstock.

Pick this up from Fort Lowell Records.

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