Sunday, May 11, 2008
Tim Fite--Fair Ain't Fair (2008)
Album-Fair Ain't Fair
Release Date-May 6, 2008
Genre/Style-Indie Pop/Alternative Country-Rock
Note-The file is in just 128kbps. Need higher quality? Buy it.
Review-A year in the making, following his critically acclaimed (and free for download) attack on materialism, Over the Counter Culture, Tim Fite continues expanding on his musical process, in which he treats the sounds in his head like construction paper as he cuts, pastes, and stacks notes and noises to build musical collages. While the last album mixed white-boy hip-hop and folk with a kaleidoscope of samples to earn quick comparisons to Mellow Gold-era Beck, Fair Ain't Fair has the feel of Tom Waits songs performed by the Eels and produced by a Grandaddy and Wyclef tag team. No raps to be found this time around. Instead, he sings in a surprisingly perfect pitch, with his vocal twang layered in three part harmonies, over modern-day country jigs and jingle-jangle melodies stylized with electronic bleeps and bloops. It's a sample-heavy album, but instead of dollar bin CD snippets acting as chief building blocks for the songs, they're the icing on a cake made of organic instrumentation. A dozen artists contributed to Fite's quest to turn his sparse musical ideas into wonderfully lush arrangements, including Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), Danielle Stech Homsy (Rio en Medio), and Sufjan Stevens' backing band. Drum parts were recorded overnight at Fite's old high school and tracked before he and his cast of performers added slack key guitar, chimes, piano, banjo, pedal steel, bass, mandolin, viola, and a potpourri of indecipherable sounds. The pop textures are more evident, the melodies are more hook-laden, and the overall vibe is more laid-back than past releases, varying in moods from positively gleeful to terribly melancholy. Even with the brunt of Fair Ain't Fair focused on the theme of post-apocalyptic regret, childish whimsy shines through (as expected from someone who authored an imaginative fairy tale titled Beans): a slide whistle interrupts the apologies of "Yesterday's Garden" as he confesses "I guess you know that yesterday, I ran your garden over, girl," and silly chants of "a horse is a horse of course of course" and "Hey! Hey! Hay is for horses," lighten up the anti-consumer anthem "More Clothes." Like in previous albums, "Fist" continues to thumb his nose at greed and capitalism, ending "Sing Along," a "la la" song catchy enough to be his first radio single, with an afterthought, "This right here would sound real good, I think, personally...real nice for a car commercial or something...maybe something for Maxi Pads, you know, 'cuz a lot of people use 'em." It's both a jovial field day, and a provocative question mark aimed at society, showing that even someone with the creative flow of a seven year old can have a thought-provoking and mature release.