Fairmont – Wait & Hope
Release Date: July 12th, 2007
Record Label: Go For Broke Records
I think I hear the distinct brewing of coffee house espresso over the dingy hammering of Fairmont’s Wait & Hope. I also think I hear faint touches of 90’s alternative and the rustling of flannel. Filing nearly every hole in the wall, Wait & Hope is the homage to old school rock like The Replacements, The Kinks and Husker Du in a grungy era. Rooted in punk rock, there are dirty riffs, an obviously organic point of view, and a frustrated, oppressed vocalist – just look at the album artwork.
The untreated Fairmont sound may come off as crude to some, but that’s the catch 22 when your band fits more in tune with the grunge movement than new millennium indie rock. Wait & Hope keeps to familiar themes like in “Yearbook” and most tracks bear a similar mid-tempo pitter-pattering. Neil Sabatino’s smoky but high vocals quiver and quail along with the percussion and loud, stately piano fits. He’s got a bit of an attitude, that Sabatino, but his band neutralizes the total effect with their own edge of blue-collar wisdom. Take “At The End of The Movie.” The track begins light and timid. The guitars prickle until they build enough confidence to strum and chug at their own accord until a headstrong piano comes in, the one with the big head, and pushes the guitars until they can’t handle the spotlight anymore; they jump back to an acoustic hermit stage and we are alone once more.
But it’s not the guitars that are the winning steel workers for Fairmont. Two things get me thinking that Fairmont has something really (and I mean this genuinely) different than their current peers, at least the ones I’ve heard. First of all, I can actually hear the bass. Distinct, very audible basslines tumble throughout Wait & Hope. They contribute towards the albums deep-in-thought image and provide each track with a dark mystique. Second - the harmonica. It’s the harmonica that gives Wait & Hope a bittersweet glow, and no matter where it pops up in a song, I always feel as though it is well-placed, well-thought, and well-deserved. It’s an easy instrument to incorporate, but it’s not an easy instrument to master without looking like an amateur. Tracks like “Wait & Hope” use each and every instrument to the greatest effect while they blend seamlessly. It’s more than riffing and rolling here, and it’s done simple and well.
I believe that Fairmont is hot shit because I believe in good ‘ol organic fun. The production is sloppy like it should be, and I don’t expect (or want) anything more. Sabatino is paranoid and distraught throughout, if you couldn’t already tell from “Happiness Is A Million Miles Away From Me.” Between him, the dirty riffs, bass and harmonica solos, and piano thumping, there is enough to Fairmont spirit to give up on that corporate coffee chain down the street.
I remember discovering Fairmont a year ago, just before the release of Wait and Hope. I was absolutely amazed, and since then they have risen to become my favourite Indie Rock band. I was entranced by the magical melody of the harmonica in Suspicion Haunts the Guilty Mind and the soft but powerful sorrow in At the End of the Movie. I played it all summer, as it gave sunshine on even the rainy days. Fairmont are an undiscovered genius, and everyone should own a copy of this album!