The Argentinian-American Family-Amigos experience that is known as Fair Fjola has been causing some of the biggest commotion in Warsaw, Indiana since the book burnings of 1977. I mean after all the Warsaw, Indiana based band got a feature in the Times-Union, put out an EP on Auris Apothecary, recorded in Chicago with Brian Deck and went to New York to master their debut album no one gets any. Because Fair Fjola really has got quite a buzz going in Kosciusko County, it’s due time General Thad takes a look at their debut release: no one gets any.
In order for you to understand the kind of affect that no one gets any has on its listener, I’ve got to briefly describe where I’m at. I’m currently writing in a very busy Laundromat, sweating my balls off and staring out the window as the sun is slowly being replaced by the glow of neon and florescent lights. In times like this one, I’d usually be frustrated with the heat, with the dominance of artificial lighting and with the fact that I have to walk about 4 blocks to do my laundry. But while listening to Fair Fjola I don’t think about those things. Instead, the tumble dryers and the sweat on my brow reminds me of where I was last year, two years ago, three years ago and why I’m sitting here right now. For a split second, I think that maybe I was happier back then. Hell, I don’t know if I really was. I don’t know a lot of things. But the sensation is nostalgic nonetheless.
It’s interesting that I feel this sense of nostalgia, because in the bio section of Fair Fjola’s website, the band’s music is described as “truly nostalgic and entirely Midwestern”. I guess I can vouch for the nostalgia – . . . On the other hand, I don’t really know what a “Midwestern” style is supposed to be, but I can see what this description is trying to get at. First off, the album art shows the biggest city in the heart of the Midwest: Chicago. Secondly, some of the major themes of the album include topics that relate to the experiences of many Midwesterners. Finally, the band comes from Warsaw, Indiana, so maybe that means there is some legitimacy to what they’re saying.
One of the most interesting aspects of no one gets any, repeats frequently in several different songs. This is the theme of “Settling”. To “settle” for what you’ve got, means to give up on “unattainable” dreams in favor of a practical life. Maybe you’re job is not quite as good as what you had in mind, but at least it keeps you fed. The song “Settle” brings this debatably “Midwestern” concept into discussion. The lyrical subject in this song declares, “Dreams are for dreamers, but I’m wide awake”, which implies that the subject has finally put his foolish “dreams” to rest in favor of a simple life with simple goals. Setting simpler goals can have its benefits: Sebastian sings, “You will always get there”, meaning simple goals will always be attained. This idea of “Settling”, can be seen in several other contemporary pieces of Midwestern art. Poet David Thompson comments on this in his poem “Face it” as he describes youthful dreams turning into poignant swigs of “gas station coffee”. Also, my song (unprofessional and haughty self-reference) from The Great Corn Detasseling Album “Keep Your Feet on the Carpet” deals with a very similar idea: “You said you’d never settle, but that was just cotton candy. It tasted so sweet in your mouth, but left your body starving.” The discussion of this idea is something that is very present in the Midwestern existence and stands in direct contrast to the common “American” idiom: “Shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
But Fair Fjola’s view of “Settling” becomes more complicated in their song “Seemingly Safe”, as they lyrically attack the consequences of “Settling”. They sing: “We break all of our plans for a life that seems more comfortable, but the blue collar man repeats the same thing that he did the day before.” This on the one hand attacks the monotony of a factory job, but furthermore attacks the notion of “Settling” down. Plans and dreams are thrown away and the dullness of a normal life seems too unbearable for the current Midwestern generation. My father and his generation (born ’61) dealt with Midwestern dullness by sitting around fires and shooting the shit (My old man can tell a mean story around a campfire. This is a skill that I haven’t mastered quite as well). But for Fair Fjola, the reality of a simple, Midwestern life seems miserable. They sing later on in the same song “Everything’s becoming one big waste”. Maybe that’s exactly what the Midwestern identity is . . . Another band from Warsaw, Indiana, Invisible Robots, parallels this sentiment in their song “Disconnected Buttered Toast”: “Working in a Factory – 40 years of Soul-sucking” leads to a person who “searches for the Holy Ghost in a piece of buttered toast”. It is perhaps all the consequence of being “Seemingly Safe”.
There are many other aspects of no one gets any that pertain to the Midwestern identity, which I unfortunately did not discuss in this brief analysis, but hopefully if you listen to the record and have made it this far in reading, you can put some thoughts below in the comment box 😉
In all, Fair Fjola’s sound is a kind of indie-folk with acoustic guitars, harmonicas, ukulele, keys and electric guitars, among others. They have catchy melodies and a very clean production-style, which is easy on the ears. Fair Fjola plays with emotions, sings about love stories and coming home, all of which creates some rather relatable tunes. The vocal harmonies are tight and most songs tend to stay in major keys (though the rawhide-esque “Wait for me” and the stomping “Indian Summer” are notable exceptions); in all, this makes for great road-tripping music. With no one gets any, Fair Fjola has really created one very fine full-length debut that leaves the listener anxious to see the group’s next step. Although no one gets any is probably not bold enough to alter the history of Midwestern music, it is definitely an outstanding record.
You can find out more information concerning Fair Fjola and get a hold of no one gets any on their website: http://www.fairfjola.com/
Thanks a lot for reading,
October 8, 2011