Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tim Fite - Fair Ain't Fair

Tim Fite is one of those guys that puts on an utterly amazing live show. He's super engaging, has story time with his own drawings, gets the crowd involved (such as the time he spun me around like a ballerina), has a giant wooden boombox with flashing lights, and his sidekick brother Greg helps with everything. As often is the case, bands come up short when trying to capture their frenetic concerts in a studio, and Tim Fite falls under that category. No matter how good his records are, they pale in comparison to when he performs live. But don't let that stop you from listening to Fair Ain't Fair, or any of his other albums. Fite knows how to craft great songs, but keep in mind they are best experienced live.

Fite's last physical release was Gone Ain't Gone in 2005, with two digital releases since then (Over The counter Culture was a more rap oriented album and It's Only Ketchup was a Halloween themed EP). Fair Ain't Fair is quite similar to Gone, in sound and theme, where we find him still using a lot of samples from various obscure records (he used My Latest Novel!).

Fair Ain't Fair is a really fun album that is much more consistent than Gone was. The problem is, though, part of Gone's charm was how it was all over the place and Fair is missing that. Gone Ain't Gone had some really weird short tracks (the overlooked If I Had A Cop Show) and overall, it was just kind of unfocused as an album. Fair is much smoother but all of the tracks end up blending together. Of course you notice some tracks more than others, like Rats And Rags with it's skittery electronic beats and louder than usual last chorus, the catchy opener Roots Of A Tree, or the fantastic single Big Mistake, all of which are some of Fite's best songs to date. But they get lost amidst the rest of the album. It's such a solid album that the stand-out tracks have trouble standing out.

It seems Fite has really improved, though. Some would say a more uniform album is a sign of progress. And in addition to that, his songwriting has been polished as well. Like I mentioned, some of the songs on Fair Ain't Fair are much better than a lot of the songs on Gone. There are definitely songs from Gone that could be skipped, but the same could not be said of Fair. All of them have their own appeal. Some are more catchy and toe tapping, where others are slowly lilting folky melodies. Some are serious with Fite's political rants that can't be missed, and then some are light hearted with whistling and yodeling. But the best songs are the ones that combine all of that creating something more than the sum of it's parts.

So far, I've really enjoyed Fair Ain't Fair. I sincerely love some of the songs on here. Maybe over time, it'll grow on me and I'll appreciate it for it's consistency. But for right now, I see that sadly as more of a flaw than a benefit. Regardless, Fair is a fantastic album, especially if you're a newcomer to Fite's antics.

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