Saturday, July 16, 2011
REVIEW: Fan Modine - Gratitude for the Shipper
Fan Modine, based in Carrboro NC (adjacent to Chapel Hill), is singer-songwriter-guitarist-keyboardist Gordon Zacharias and an all-star cast of mostly local Tarheel musicians including ace guitar player Ash Bowie (Polvo).
Gratitude for the Shipper, Fan Modine's first new release in 6 yrs, is a lush pop joyride. It doesn't hurt to have the help of the Southern pop hall of famers - Chris Stamey producing and arranging the strings and horns, Mitch Easter helping out on guitars, and Peter Holsapple on steel guitar. For extra measure in regard to the Southern jangle pop history, the closing song "Waiting for the Distant Light" honors Big Star and the recently deceased Alex Chilton ("the star that shines so bright will reach us first").
This record should appeal strongly to the regular readers of WYMA's Scottish pop band series, although there is nothing low-fi going on here, as Gratitude for the Shipper is big, baroque pop in line with Belle & Sebastian and the Teenage Fanclub.
Every time it appears to be veering into territory a bit too er, twee, for my tastes, in come the great horn lines and big string arrangements, which give the songs a much more compelling sound and rich texture. And the big pop hooks are offset by Zacharias' sometimes dark and always interesting lyrical story lines.
You can listen to the entire release here, but I'd suggest starting with songs 2 ("Juju Road"), 6 ("Wormwood Scrubbs"), 8 ("Another Eventail") and especially the finale "Waiting for Distant Light", a compelling closer to a great pop record.
Band web page: http://fanmodine.com/1/