14 Songs


About Fairburn Royals

A melodic indie pop outfit, the Fairburn Royals came together when the members were students in Athens, GA. College came and went, and the members remained together making music because, as their website says, "we're friends who have contrasting music tastes and enjoy being around each other. Our music is the result." This nonchalant attitude has no doubt been advantageous to the band's musical progression, as they've created a pressure-free environment to experiment in, free of the influence of labels and scenesters. The Fairburn Royals released their debut record, Sunshine Slowdown, in 2001. Ambitiously formed as a concept album, Sunshine Slowdown avoided the usual trappings of such affairs by being subtle and not at all pretentious or rock opera-esque. Drawing from influences as diverse as Neutral Milk Hotel and Fugazi, the band's sound rests happily closer to the former. Guitarists Matt Lisle and Wesley Black's strong, pop-influenced melodies set the stage for endearingly soft-spoken Lisle to lilt through lyrics that show a beautiful knack for detailing everyday situations and making them seem extraordinary. Numbers like "Rather Be Flying" and "Secretary's Day" took on such seemingly mundane situations as checking one's answering machine only to find that it's still empty and the unfortunately forgettable titular holiday, respectively, and the results call to mind the sly sweetness of Jeff Mangum or Silver Scooter -- fine company for any songwriter to be in. The fact that the Fairburn Royals were in their early to mid-twenties while making the album makes its strength, and their untapped potential, all the more astounding. Released through the very indie Happy Happy Birthday to Me collective, Sunshine Slowdown went largely unnoticed by the college rock masses, but those who were privy to it were duly impressed and waited to see what the group's next album would hold once the young band settled a little more comfortably and confidently into their own skin. While Sunshine Slowdown hinted at the direction the band was shooting for, their vision didn't fully come into focus until the release of 2002's From a Window Way Above. With their sophomore effort the Fairburn Royals ventured a little more pointedly into the lo-fi indie rock realm of outfits like Guided by Voices and Elf Power, with all the obligatory nods to the Beatles mixed in for good measure (but without GBV's penchant for Who-style windmill rockers). As expected, From a Window Way Above is a suitably charming follow-up to Sunshine Slowdown's unexpected breath of fresh air, and it shows the band securing its voice, even as lineup shifts were taking place with Dave Kincaid replacing bassist Adam Bruce. Bouncy, rocking numbers are peppered with psychedelic '60s forays that slow the album's momentum, but ultimately the record proves to be a step forward. In addition to appearing on various compilation records, in 2003 the Fairburn Royals released the aptly titled Free EP. As the name implies, the Free EP was available free for fans to download from the band's website, complete with artwork. Embracing the power of file sharing rather than rallying against it, as was common practice by many bands at the time, the Fairburn Royals encouraged fans to download the EP and make copies for at least three friends. Comprised of reworkings of previously released material, the EP is perhaps the band's strongest musical statement to date, as it polishes up a few of the rough edges of earlier versions of fan favorites like "Secretary's Day" and "Lonesome Townie Blues." Fairburn Royals drummer Jason Eshelman also plays in the Athens outfit the Eskimos, and former bassist Bruce is in the punk outfit the Inconsiderates. ~ Karen E. Graves

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