Thursday, March 30, 2006

Band of the Week: Fred Thomas

Some of my favorite albums over the last few years were burned by the artist on cdr with labels printed up at Kinko’s the night before. A musician who shows up at sparsely crowded clubs on tour on his own and wins hearts a few people at a time with songs that are often as much “teenage symphony to God” as any Brian Wilson-orchestrated perfect pop track off of Pet Sounds.

He’s singer, song-writer, and multi-instrumentalist Fred Thomas, the gentleman who also heads up the Michigan-based Ypsilanti Records and Midwest act Saturday Looks Good to Me. And while that band’s chamber-poppish albums All Your Summer Songs and Every Night are pretty incredible in their own right, it's Fred’s painfully unrecognized solo recordings that really hit home for me.

I mean, some musicians are content to craft a catchy chorus, repeat it a few times, and let that be that. But Fred inserts these little moments into songs that ... sometimes it’s the lyrics or how he delivers them or how he’s stopped all else to focus on whatever particular instrument he’s playing at the time ... just hold you in their hand and break your heart the tiniest bit.

And then they proceed to do it again and again in a number of different ways.

In But The Air Hung Just As Cold And Still As Before for instance, he begins singing in your bathroom, “writing you a song about how it’s hard to get along, the more you try, the more that feelings fade.” And in Friends & Parents, he relates an awkward moment running into an ex where he says “you laughed like you were drunk, but not on wine, but someone drunk on someone else.”

Blink and you’ll miss them, because he’ll have already moved on the next line, one that's equally or more well-written.

I figured that a reason why you might not have these tracks before is that Fred is a self-professed luddite who, though has his own personal myspace page, hasn’t posted any of his songs on it.

So, I went ahead and made a myspace music page for him yesterday where you can hear a few of my favorite tracks from him. (Ordering inquiries can be made over at Ypsilanti Records.)

Because I think he’s one of the most talented musicians out there right now and if you haven’t heard him yet, you’ve really been missing out.

So go check it out, already...


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