Friday, June 18, 2004

90's indiepop keeps slowly fading away.

Two bands, who came as close as anyone to defining the SF version of the late 90's indiepop sound, have announced their bye byes. And they're doing it in mutually typical fashions.

I'm talking about the Fairways & Beulah. Both were creative & innovative songsmiths. Both dealt in the highly melodic, yet melancholic, Zombies-sad, vein. Both built loyal followings.

But where you've probably never heard of the Fairways (although better known bands like The Aislers Set, #Poundsign#, Henry's Dress & Scenic Vermont share relational lineages w/ the Fairways), Beulah was, for a while, flirting with national attention. Regularly their name would pop up in the same sentence with Elephant 6 bands like Apples In Stereo, Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control & The Minders.

The Fairways official goodbye seems almost an afterthought. In fact, they've probably been saying goodbye for a few years. They, to me, represented one of the defining curiosities of the indiepop world. You can't actually want to be too famous. You don't promote yourself too hard, even if you can, or should. So, they only now have finally gotten around to releasing a nice little 'aloha' collection of songs, recorded sporadically from their heyday ('98), up until recently ('04).

Cynical pop-psychologists might say this 'in, but not really in the game' attitude allows one to cope with not making it. Never really wanted that, I'm just writing little pieces, for myself, really; that sort of art-student nihilism. But I think, in the case of the Fairways at least, it wasn't that pained a pose. They honestly enjoyed the music - if you had the pleasure of seeing one of their very rare shows, there was no doubt about that. Who knows what the real deal is? I like that they will now remain an endearing, although odd and quirky band, who finally remembered to call with a little 'hey, thanks and it was nice seeing you, for a while' CD. It's called This Is Farewell, and it's available through Matinée Records.

Beulah, on the other hand, have never been anything if not direct and up front about their aspirations at the big time. I think it was around the time of When Your Heartstrings Break, Myles was fond of making some pretty bold pronouncements and causing a splash. An interview came out, where he was either misquoted, or not, saying his songwriting was on a par with the best of The Beatles. They got good gigs, a fair amount of favorable critical praise, but somehow seemed to have screwed the pooch. The fans lost interest. Then, last year, they released "Yoko." With a vacant stool prominent in the cover art, it was fairly obvious "breakup" was an implied underlying sentiment.

Yet, they've been touring extensively. In Europe and currently moving across the country, with a scheduled end of the tour date at The Fillmore, on June 26. But now they just announced a free and final show, set for Aug 5 in NYC's Battery Park. The road is hard and all things must pass. Watch for solo work from Myles; it has to be.

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