Fax Holiday’s BIG FEAR LP (as well as their two EPs released this fall) defies my feeble attempts at categorization. Fax Holiday is rock music, but with 90’s grunge sensibilities, occasional post-rock balladic soundscapes, and sometimes violins. More importantly, their sound is polished and has a clear ubiquity.
“Cut From Cloth” is Fax Holiday’s outstanding opener, beginning with just a distant sounding organ reverberating several notes and chords. The production feels sonically large – you can hear the individual keys being pressed on the organ and fingers slipping down a guitar string. The track is amorphous, seamlessly transitioning from a somber organ dirge to a rock ballad. Impressive to me is how vocalist Eric Schermerhorn delivers the melancholic lyrics with authentic emotion – subtle emphasis or wavering on certain words makes it seem like he’s genuinely delivering them, rather than simply singing them. By the time the drums kick in 2/3rds through the song, his voice has picked up in amplitude and he howls beneath the atmospheric synthesizers.
Perhaps atmospheric is the best word I can find to describe Fax Holiday’s release. Both the production and the instrumentation lend itself to shivering crescendos. I picked “Cut From Cloth” because I thought it best exemplified their chameleonic sound, but I could have easily picked any of the other songs on the release. The individual songs have their own distinctive soundscape, varying in style and sentiment – each track sounds “big” and “important”, parts of a greater whole, but not reinterpretations of the same sound, ad nauseum.