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Arrows & Anchors (Deluxe Edition)

Fair to Midland

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Album Review

On Fair to Midland's fourth full-length effort, and their debut for Entertainment One, the Texas prog metal quintet up their musical ante considerably. Given the four years that elapsed between Fables from a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True, Fair to Midland have taken their root-hooky, heavy, and immediate sound and shifted its focus considerably. Arrows & Anchors' 15 tracks clock in at nearly 55 minutes, with only one cut — ten-minute closer "The Greener Grass" — being over five minutes in length. Their melodies have become much more complex, their vocals more extensively layered with lush harmonies, and their guitar volumes remain at 11 on the volume scale though Matt Langley's keyboards are a more central part of their attack. For those who were fans of the hooky melodies on Fables from a Mayfly, this may provide a challenge upon first listen, but it ultimately gives way to immense satisfaction with just a modicum of patience. "Heavens to Murgatroyd" opens the set as a 44-second intro, with a church organ and a preacher incoherently ranting before sledgehammer guitars, thrumming basslines, and double-timed drum introduce the death metal riff at the beginning of "Whiskey & Ritalin," but these just as quickly give way to an intricate, harmonic lyric line driven by a keyboard and double-tracked vocals. While it never loses its power, the cut's numerous textures and dimensions create a labyrinthine path for the listener to follow; it is a blueprint for the album as a whole. "Musical Chairs," with its acoustic piano intro, is quickly displaced by a full band assault, albeit one led by lush insistent keyboards. The use of a hammered dulcimer and a banjo interspersed with bone-crushing guitars on "Amarillo Sleeps on My Pillow," with its bluesy, country vocal by Darroh Sudderth — whose ability to move between nearly sweet and tender vocals and spirited HM growls is startling — is the most beguiling cut on the set. (For a more jarring example, check "Rikki Tikki Tavi.") "Coppertank Island" sounds almost like Katatonia fueled by keys and drums instead of guitars, though the latter are certainly present. The two final numbers, "Three Foolproof Ways to Buy the Farm" and the aforementioned "The Greener Grass," close on a more nebulous, experimental note that doesn't quite seem to fit with the rest of the album's precision and calculation, but this is a small complaint. For all the musical adventure and the growth it reflects, Arrows & Anchors is Fair to Midland's finest effort to date.

Customer Reviews

Might Just Be Album of the Year

Once again, Fair to Midland has delivered an album that few other artists can match. Arrows and Anchors is their heaviest release yet, but it still carries the FTM sound and the magical feel to it.
1. Heavens to Murgatroyd 5/10 this is just a 40 sec intro so nothing big
2. Whiskey & Ritalin 8/10 this song EXPLODES as soon as the intro finishes, this song is very heavy and features an awesome riff, which are rare for FTM
3. Musical Chairs 9/10 the single, the bass is absolutely insane, the chorus is catchy, the bridge is beautiful, great lyrics, this song rocks
4. Uh-Oh 8/10 a very solid song, good guitar and cool chorus
5. Amarillo Sleeps on My Pillow 9/10 wow, this here is a gem. Very unique, the verses have hints of old country and have sweet banjo parts, the chorus is one of FTM's best, also has a short guitar solo, which are very rare for FTM
6, A Loophole IN Limbo 8.5/10 I love this song
7. Typhoid Sends Her Best 5/10 this is another short instrumental
8. Short-Haired Tornado 9.5/10 this is the FTM magic I was talking about, fantastic!
9. The Upset At Bailey Bridge 5/10 another short transitional song
10. Rikki Tikki Tavi 7.5/10 This song alternates between very heavy sections and very peaceful sections, the vocals are very impressive and each section is good. But the contrast creates a disconnected feel which worsens the song
11. Golden Parachutes 9.5/10 this song impressed me, its really good but hard to describe. the keyboard is also pretty fast, and theres a guitar solo thing
12. Bright Bulbs and Sharp tools 7.5/10 another pretty solid song, nothing too special though
13. Coppertank Island 8.5/10 i love keybooard; it shows another side of FTM. The bridge is awesome too, prob one of the album's best
14. Three Foolproof Ways to Buy the Farm 6/10 this is a weird hypnotic instrumental. I wasn't a fan of it until I realized it paves the way essentially for the following epic
15. The Greener Grass (with hidden track) 9/10 the most optimistic sounding song on the album as the title implies, I am a big fan of this song, it impressed me. The hidden track cuts off the optimism at first and then ends the album in exactly the smae style as the album was started with Heavens to Murgatroyd, creating a very conclusive feel.
Conclusion: If you are a fan of Fair to Midland buy the entire album. If you aren't a fan yet, listen, if it sonds good then you will love it. This year is going to have a lot of highly anticipated albums released, Steven Wilson, Tool, AIC, Bush, RATM, etc. etc. etc. But I think this might just be the winner. Highly recommended!

This is the album of the year

After four years from their last release, this album lives up to the hype and exceeds it.
It is complex, beautiful and takes repeated listens to really understand this music.
There is no other band like Fair To Midland.
These guys are one of a kind and that says enough in these days of the mainstream garbage
that permeates the radio,

awesome!!

sick album.... what a follow up!!!! bout time..

Biography

Formed: 1998 in Sulphur Springs, TX

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Formed in 1998 in Sulphur Springs, Texas, prog metal band Fair to Midland are vocalist Darroh Sudderth, guitarist Cliff Campbell, bassist Jon Dicken, drummer Brett Stowers, and keyboardist Matt Langley. After two independently released records (The Carbon Copy Silver Lining EP in 2001 and Inter. Funda. Stifle in 2004), Fair to Midland caught the attention of System of a Down's Serj Tankian, who signed them to his label, Serjical Strike, in April 2006. The Drawn and Quartered EP, featuring demo and...
Full Bio
Arrows & Anchors (Deluxe Edition), Fair to Midland
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