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Fastball
Little White Lies
(self-released)
www.fastballtheband.com


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.

-David DeVoe

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