The mid '90s gave the world some great pop bands that were on the
verge of reviving the "college rock" sound, including bands
such as The Judybats, Sister Hazel and Austin, Texas'
Fastball. Everyone who listened to radio in 1998 was sure to
have heard the band's fantastic pop anthem "The Way", with
its wildly Elvis Costello-ian vibe, or the real pop crusher,
"Fire Escape". If you hadn't been paying attention during
the intervening years then you probably would have believed the band
to have been defunct
lost forever to the annals of rock history,
another three-hit wonder. All The Pain That Money Can Buy was
followed by one more record that got absolutely no radio play and
no label backing, and so virtually no one ever heard that fine collection
of songs. Shortly thereafter it seemed that the band had gone their
separate ways, lead man Miles Zuniga making his way to Nashville
and spending his days trying to make a living as a songwriter
in Nashville? What a horrible way to make a living in this day and
age. But the fervor to write and record his own songs and to work
once more with his pals from Fastball, Tony Scalzo and Joey
Shuffield, as well as probably growing tired of the Nashville
scene, Miles returned to Austin and the band has finally gifted the
world with a new record.
Little White Lies contains all the things that made Fastball
such a wonderful little band along their career. The rocking solidarity
of "All I Was Looking For Was You" is a perfect way to begin
the album, full of energy and clean guitar licks that make the music
shine. This song truly embodies the good nature of Fastball and their
ability to make a listener feel great about life. The band lets their
jazzy tendencies shine through on "Always And Never", working
in complex chords and Joe Jackson-ish harmonic structures.
"The Malcontent (Modern World)" is the lead single from
the record and owes quite a bit of its sound to the band's previous
hit "The Way", but less scattered, with a stronger focus
and brilliant vocals by Scalzo. Working in some bass-line disco-syncopation
on the title track before its beautiful rock breakdown, the band struts
its stuff in full fashion. The singers' voices blend perfectly, as
the drums pound out counterpoint on the toms, imbuing the track with
all the greatness that made bands like Squeeze so paramount.
Scalzo kicks out the piano jams on the wonderfully rhythmic "She's
Got The Rain" and alternately accompanies his unique voice with
acoustic guitar on "How Did I Get Here", forsaking the straightforward
pop for a more melancholy, heartfelt reading. Invoking the Beatles'
penchant for strange chords and rhythmic boisterousness, Zuniga takes
the lead on the coolly irreverent "We'll Always Have Paris (Everyday
All Of The Time)".
Little White Lies is a return to form for the little Austin
band that could
Actually, there is no evidence that the band
had ever lost their ability to create excellent pop music full of
character and sonic beauty. The album is full of songs that are immediately
likeable and dangerously catchy. Take one listen to "Angelie"
and the guitar lines and spooky vocals will have you once more addicted
to this brilliant band.
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