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Fairlanes: Welcome to NowhereWelcome to Nowhere (2001)
Suburban Home Records
Reviewer Rating: 4.5
I've been listening to The Fairlanes since the (recorded) beginning. Some kids covered a song off of "Songs for Cruising" and I found their sound irresistible; I picked up their CD. I was impressed with the quality of this local band, but didn't get a chance to pick up their EP when it was released a year or so later. The Fairlanes seemed to have disappeared for awhile, and since I was so engulfed into the emo scene I didn't even seem to notice. However, I heard of a resurrection of the band. I heard their latest release was supposed to be phenomenal in both production and efforts by the band. I grew really excited and when I first popped in the CD I was really impressed. The myriad of promo flyers, articles, and banners had proven true; the production on this CD was much better than "Songs for Cruising."
Not only was the production extraordinary; musically, the band has taken enormous strides in a positive direction. If I had to say one noticeable "musical" change, I would definitely say the CD is slower and more…well, "emo." That's not to say they don't still have their raging guitars and fast drums, but unlike Songs for Cruising, the drums tend to do a mid-tempo beat in some of the songs. I like this change a lot because the really superficially fast beat can get annoying at times. One more thing: the CD is truly diverse. All of the songs have interesting, harmony-loving chords and choruses which just don't get old.
Ok, now onto analyzing the tracks. The CD starts off instantaneously with raging guitars, but to my initial surprise: mid-tempo drums! During the chorus, there's a hint of a clean guitar layered behind the distortion, with great backing vocals. There even is a bridge, which adds to the catchy effect maintained throughout the song. Although these chords, like Songs for Cruising, are power chords, you can tell a great difference in the production from the start.
I was surprised as well by the second track: it starts off really soft, almost like a Get Up Kids song or something of the like. But, of course, the loud guitars come raging in, with yet another catchy chorus. I noticed a vocal effect as well in the pre-chorus, which was impressive and added dimension to the song. In a bridge, there's even an acoustic guitar and a breakdown/buildup of verses which build to a chorus. Yet again, I must say, this CD is much more diverse than "Songs for Cruising" and I was really wide-eyed.
The third track, "This Amp Goes to 11," which I had previously heard on Mike Park's Plea For Peace comp, brings back the really fast beats known to all Fairlanes fans, and this song sounds a lot like the stuff on Songs for Cruising. I like it though, and I like how he yells "turn it up…turn it up.." again and again.
We can hear some more of that clean behind distorted guitar sound on track 4 as well. This track exemplifies the vocal abilites new to the Fairlanes on this CD: the backing vocals and vocal layering is amazing. The song breaks down, much like the last track, with an acoustic guitar, and then builds up again. Can I say wow?
The fifth track is one of those power tracks by the Fairlanes, with yet again great vocal abilities. It breaks down as well, but this time with a solo guitar riff. And at around two minutes, we can hear an acoustic guitar layered with the distortion, almost (needlessly) begging us to hear the amount of time spent on the production of this CD.
I liked the sixth track, but the clean guitar riff at the end of this track really interested me. I liked it a lot, and it leads into the seventh track, "Symbiosis," which is one of my two favorite tracks on this CD. From the transition of clean guitars to the power of distortion with a repeated riffs to the vocal phenomenon in this track, I don't know what's not to like. It ends with the clean riff in the beginning and I really think this is a great track.
Lesson Learned has a almost Alkaline-Trio sounding bass guitar in the background, like slap bass. This song, too, is great. The song breaks down again with a solo guitar riff. I don't like repeating that ("the song breaks down") because it might sound like this CD is full of songs that break down. Please realize this CD is NOT unoriginal at any glance in its breakdowns and buildups, and I seriously cannot get sick of it.
Track 9 starts out with a great clean riff again and transits into distortion like track six. That may be why this is my other favorite song on the album. The guitars play two different lines; one does a cool riff while the other plays rhythm. The backing vocalists (the rest of the band) hum "ooh" in the background. Wow, at about this point I truly realized that this band was a different, better band than the old Fairlanes.
The tenth track is an odd song, with a moog in it, believe it or not. This song is really weird but interesting at the same time. <
Track eleven gets out of the "weird phase" and goes into the second to last track. Yet again, more power and raging guitars/vocals. Wow, wow, wow!!!
Finally, "Down Here on Earth" has some great soloing done by the guitars, and I don't think I can say anything more that will make a difference anyway.
In case you didn't notice, I LOVE this CD. It's not going to be on my favorites list, but that's only because I'm into the slower stuff, even though this CD was pretty slow too. This CD has shown us the Fairlanes are moving into a different dimension. Not to say I didn't like Songs for Cruising, this CD is just plain better. The amount of time spent on recording this CD (apparently, the longest spent ever by their producer at 8 Houses) was not put to even the slightest waste. This CD is a great reason for the Fairlanes to smile, as they have recently quit all their jobs and decided to go on a huge worldwide tour. Good luck to them, and if you aren't them, get this CD! I simply guarantee you will not be disappointed and I am really excited to hear more!!
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