A year in the making, following his critically acclaimed (and free for download) attack on materialism, Over the Counter Culture, Tim Fite continues expanding on his musical process, in which he treats the sounds in his head like construction paper as he cuts, pastes, and stacks notes and noises to build musical collages. While the last album mixed white-boy hip-hop and folk with a kaleidoscope of samples to earn quick comparisons to Mellow Gold-era Beck, Fair Ain't Fair has the feel of Tom Waits songs performed by the Eels and produced by a Grandaddy and Wyclef tag team. No raps to be found this time around. Instead, he sings in a surprisingly perfect pitch, with his vocal twang layered in three part harmonies, over modern-day country jigs and jingle-jangle melodies stylized with electronic bleeps and bloops. It's a sample-heavy album, but instead of dollar bin CD snippets acting as chief building blocks for the songs, they're the icing on a cake made of organic instrumentation. A dozen artists contributed to Fite's quest to turn his sparse musical ideas into wonderfully lush arrangements, including Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), Danielle Stech Homsy (Rio en Medio), and Sufjan Stevens' backing band. Drum parts were recorded overnight at Fite's old high school and tracked before he and his cast of performers added slack key guitar, chimes, piano, banjo, pedal steel, bass, mandolin, viola, and a potpourri of indecipherable sounds. The pop textures are more evident, the melodies are more hook-laden, and the overall vibe is more laid-back than past releases, varying in moods from positively gleeful to terribly melancholy. Even with the brunt of Fair Ain't Fair focused on the theme of post-apocalyptic regret, childish whimsy shines through (as expected from someone who authored an imaginative fairy tale titled Beans): a slide whistle interrupts the apologies of "Yesterday's Garden" as he confesses "I guess you know that yesterday, I ran your garden over, girl," and silly chants of "a horse is a horse of course of course" and "Hey! Hey! Hay is for horses," lighten up the anti-consumer anthem "More Clothes." Like in previous albums, "Fist" continues to thumb his nose at greed and capitalism, ending "Sing Along," a "la la" song catchy enough to be his first radio single, with an afterthought, "This right here would sound real good, I think, personally...real nice for a car commercial or something...maybe something for Maxi Pads, you know, 'cuz a lot of people use 'em." It's both a jovial field day, and a provocative question mark aimed at society, showing that even someone with the creative flow of a seven year old can have a thought-provoking and mature release.
Performance CreditsTim Fite Primary Artist
Shara Worden Vocals
Justin Riddle Percussion,Drums
Danielle Stech-Homsy Vocals
Marla Hansen Viola
Pepi Ginsberg Vocals
Bloody Nose Boys Vocals
Doctor Leisure Vocals
Adam Gustavson Banjo,Bass,Guitar,Pedal Steel Guitar
Chris Lind Slack Key Guitar
Technical CreditsTim Fite Contributor
Rob Badenoch Engineer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fair Ain't Fair based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
This was my first introduction to Tim Fite, and this album made me a big fan. Songs like "Big Mistake" especially intrigued me, with Fite singing in rounds and doing the background vocals. He definitely has his own sound, and I appreciate the way he deals with heavier topics in a light-hearted (but not sweet) way.