Fair to Midland
Arrows and Anchors


5.0
classic

Review

by thatdudeud0ntknow USER (15 Reviews)
August 15th, 2011 | 24 replies | 4,353 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Fantastically weird and wonderfully wacky, Fair to Midland’s latest LP is no doubt one of the best albums to grace the music industry so far this year.

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

I remember first seeing this album in a Target store a couple weeks back. I’d heard lots-and I mean lots-of good things about the record so I picked it up and checked it out. Flipping the case over to read the song titles, my attention was grabbed before I’d even heard any of the tracks. “Typhoid Mary Sends Her Best?” “Rikki Tikki Tavi?” “Amarillo Sleeps On My Pillow?” I’d struck musical gold for sure-Heck, even the song titles were more interesting than the crap that was spewing from the store’s radio (Lowlife by Theory of a Deadman. Just saying.) So when I arrived home later that day I checked out a few songs on Youtube, just to see if the album was as good as its quirky song titles suggested.

Next day, I’d already purchased the album. And that may well have been the best $14 I’ve ever spent in my entire life. Arrows & Anchors is a strange little gem-a mash-up of genres, crafted together immaculately and seamlessly. There’s hard rock, there’s metal, there’s progressive, there’s even folk, country, and a faint taste of electronic scattered in the mix too. It may seem like a weird combination at first, because, well, it is. And yet, the band’s amazing songwriting talents blend the genres so perfectly it works amazingly well. And this isn’t the kind of album you pick up, enjoy for a week and then forget about. This album drives itself deep into your brain and lodges firmly in, holding the interest of the listener fortunate enough to stumble upon it with its wacky song-writing, fantastic musicianship, great melodies and the astounding vocal prowess of the lead singer.

Now I would usually try to stay away from 5/5 ratings, because no album is perfect, obviously. But I couldn’t find a single problem with Arrows & Anchors large enough to take off an entire half star from the album’s overall rating. I don’t know where to begin with this release, there’s so much to talk about here, but I guess we should start with the musicianship. Not only is it varied but it just downright kicks ass too-for example, who’d have thought the chugging, heavy, in-your-face riffing of Whiskey and Ritalin was performed by the same man who so perfectly pulled off the beautiful, soothing guitar of Golden Parachutes? The rhythm section does its job and does it extremely well too-carrying the songs with fantastic and clearly audible bass lines (Don’t believe me? Check out lead single “Musical Chairs”) and powerful drumbeats. We can’t forget the keyboardist here either-the addition of piano into these songs really adds that extra layer, that extra dimension, which makes songs sound so much fuller, thicker, and ultimately more interesting. Even banjos, electronic elements and similar oddities for the genre are blended in to make the music section that little bit more interesting, that little bit more curious, and that little bit more memorable.

The vocalist is just another of the band’s strong points. He pretty much spans the entire vocal spectrum, and often in the same song he switches from polar opposites effortlessly (Amarillo Sleeps on my Pillow, Rikki Tikki Tavi). The man can pull of pretty much anything; his vocals always fit the song perfectly and the strong melodies or harsh, aggressive growls just carry the tracks along. Never before have I heard such contrast from just one man (I would never have guessed that the same man who growls and screams throughout Rikki Tikki Tavi was the same man who’s voice soared so melodically and beautifully through Short-Haired Tornado).

The songwriting here is beyond, as well. As mentioned earlier, the band throws in a bit of everything. Where other hard rock bands would chuck in some power chords, Fair to Midland pull out a banjo and throw in some folk influence. Where a 3 minute break-up ballad would usually sit, a beautiful, ten-minute progressive/rock piece closes the album. When some oh-so-familiar filler would usually be carelessly chucked, Fair to Midland take a risk and write something nobody expected and yet everybody will love. Hell, even the more traditional hard rock songs-Musical Chairs and Whiskey and Ritalin-sound new and refreshing.

So in short, just buy this album. There’s beautiful, big, impressive songs like Short-Haired Tornado, The Greener Grass and Golden Parachutes, there’s the good old headbanging tracks like Whiskey and Ritalin, Musical Chairs, Amarillo Sleeps on my Pillow, and Rikki Tikki Tavi, there’s the sing-along anthems like Uh-Oh and A Loophole in Limbo, there’s the catchy little numbers like Bright Bulbs and Sharp Tools and Coppertank Island, and there’s the short instrumental breaks too. Yet every time, Fair to Midland takes the song type and completely makes it their own, changes it up with unusual influences, or just downright impresses you with their raw talents. As I said, Arrows & Anchors is fantastically weird, wonderfully wacky, and refreshingly original. You’ll be listening to this for a long time, trust me. It’s just a shame that the best album yet from, hands down, no contest, the best rock band of the decade, will pass by unnoticed for most people. I encourage you whole-heartedly to buy this beauty and support Fair to Midland-you won’t regret the decision.



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user ratings (756)
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other reviews of this album
Jacob R. STAFF (2.5)
Relying on a blueprint that's inherently flawed is never the best idea....

Mike Stagno EMERITUS (4)
Arrows & Anchors isn't quite as instant as its predecessors, but it flourishes with repeated listeni...

John weathered old reviewer Hanson STAFF (4.5)
This is what listening to a bands "magnum opus" sounds like. Maybe...

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Beautiful, original and crushing, all at the same time. Arrows and Anchors is one of the best releas...


Comments:Add a Comment 
thatdudeud0ntknow
August 15th 2011



164 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Feedback is always appreciated, still the new kid on the block around here so advice would be great

tiesthatbind
August 15th 2011



7373 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The whole intro about you buying the album is unnecessary, this should just be a review of the album. The rest of the review is well written though, good job.

thatdudeud0ntknow
August 15th 2011



164 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks =) Advice taken, I'll try to be more to-the-point next time.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 15th 2011



7174 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

All this -

I remember first seeing this album in a Target store a couple weeks back. I’d heard lots-and I mean lots-of good things about the record so I picked it up and checked it out. Flipping the case over to read the song titles, my attention was grabbed before I’d even heard any of the tracks. “Typhoid Mary Sends Her Best?” “Rikki Tikki Tavi?” “Amarillo Sleeps On My Pillow?” I’d struck musical gold for sure-Heck, even the song titles were more interesting than the crap that was spewing from the store’s radio (Lowlife by Theory of a Deadman. Just saying.) So when I arrived home later that day I checked out a few songs on Youtube, just to see if the album was as good as its quirky song titles suggested.

Next day, I’d already purchased the album. And that may well have been the best $14 I’ve ever spent in my entire life.


- made me not want to read the rest, even though I'm sure it was quite well-written. Sorry if this seems harsh, but when writing a review, be careful not to make it sound too conversational/like a blogpost. That's what diaries and blogs are for.

Digging: Ty Segall - Manipulator

thatdudeud0ntknow
August 15th 2011



164 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@ Irving: Thanks for the feedback, d'you think I should edit that part now then or leave it as it is and make sure to be more formal next time?

@ BaselineOOO Thanks a lot, though I don't see that happening lol.

renegadestrings
August 15th 2011



1440 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i didn't like the intro either, but the rest of the review is great. actually, it's almost verbatim what i would say about the album. its just amazing

IrishJay91
August 15th 2011



688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

in regards to the review, pretty much what everyone else said. its very well written, but the intro isn't needed. the album is amazing.

thatdudeud0ntknow
August 15th 2011



164 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks guys. I've been listening to this album pretty much none-stop, The Greener Grass is probably my favourite track.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
August 15th 2011



10064 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

Very well-written review! Keep it up and you'll be a great reviewer

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 15th 2011



7174 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@ Irving: Thanks for the feedback, d'you think I should edit that part now then or leave it as it is and make sure to be more formal next time?

That's really your call mate - as long as you know how to improve for next time that's good enough for me. And for what it's worth I'll second OmahaTylee94's words - keep the effort up and you'll be a great reviewer. You have the diction and the breadth of writing - just gotta find that tone of professionalism. Keep going!

Paradiso
August 21st 2011



313 Comments


A little note for anyone not privy to FtM info -- there were 4 b-sides that are completed in demo form called 'Bravo Sierra', 'Dead Sea', 'Ember Rose', and 'God Save Us'. Not sure if these will ever see the light of day, but an insider who actually got to hear these say they're just as a good as anything on A&A

thatdudeud0ntknow
August 22nd 2011



164 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

An "insider???"

Sure hope they do see the light of day, any new FtM content is a win in my books. Not to mention their demos are all strangely good, the original demos of Bright Bulbs and Rikki Tikki are almost as good as the album versions.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2011



2667 Comments


"Bravo Sierra" is pretty good. I'm not really sad that it was left off the album because I'm not sure where you'd put it on A&A - maybe between "Parachutes" and "Tools" but you're not really missing out on anything. I've never heard 'God Save Us' and question if that's its legitimate title because then there'd be five A&A B-sides that I know of.

thatdudeud0ntknow
August 26th 2011



164 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Found out something pretty funny the other day. "Rikki Tikki Tavi" was written as a joke because the band felt they were being rushed by the label, so they sent them it as, and I quote, "the most unmarketable, useless piece of crap ever" and the label loved it so it ended up on the album xD

Paradiso
August 26th 2011



313 Comments


that 5th bside is 'A Hungry Fish' i believe, but i thought that was an early version of Amarillo

and yeah, the insider is just a dude who is pretty close with darroh. i guess those songs were completely done by darroh - hence why they weren't... finished and/or considered more for the album

thatoneguy726
September 20th 2011



1632 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

so... username plagiarism?

thatdudeud0ntknow
September 21st 2011



164 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nah man, just coincidence.

Cipieron
October 22nd 2011



3508 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

www.ftmband.com/merch

they have some sweet new pre-order bundles for their upcoming live dvd, including reissues of CCSL and I.F.S, plus pieces of the piano they destroyed in the Musical Chairs music vid

pretty fucking sweet

someguest
October 22nd 2011



20393 Comments


fifty bucks for CCSL? Fuck, I'll just keep my download.

thatdudeud0ntknow
October 22nd 2011



164 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"fifty bucks for CCSL? Fuck, I'll just keep my download."

Unopened copies have sold for up to $300 on eBay I believe.



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