Supposing that you either do not know who Fred Thomas is – an indie rock icon of sorts from the Michigan area, or that you’ve never heard his music before – a modern day Tom Verlaine in that he has a definitive sound; his new album should hopefully change all of that. Music can be experimenting with sound, creating smiles through melodies, or just fuzz rock through the lens of traditional indie rock structures. Thomas’ new album Aftering is all of that, and more.
With the track “Alcohol Poisoning” Thomas creates a melodious harmony through fuzz pedals and squealing registers. Reminding the listener of what it would sound like if Teenage Fanclub and early Sebadoh formed a band together. With “Good Times Are Gone Again,” Thomas stretches out and adds all of his previous elemental styles into one song, giving the audience one of the better definitive indie anthems of today’s modern times. Any time an artist can write a memorable track about the darkness of the world without getting too preachy – while also keeping things upbeat, it’s a great thing; something that Thomas seems to understand and achieve better than most.
On “Altar,” featuring Chicago’s Anna Burch, Thomas offers up his signature almost talk sing vocals paired perfectly with Burch’s pleasant register. The two work well together while showcasing the strengths of Thomas’ songwriting.
The album isn’t all punchy indie rock though, as Thomas also indulges his softer side on songs like the eight minute “House Show, Late December” and the nine minute “Slow Waves” featuring Ashley Hennen. It’s a gamble in a time when many people won’t listen past the first thirteen seconds of a song that doesn’t immediately hit; but it works here better than it would for most artists.
If you’ve followed Thomas’ career over the previous two albums, then these songs should bring things full circle for you. If you’re unfamiliar with who Fred Thomas is – an artist who’s released solo works for over fifteen years, or you’re unaware of his output – the last two releases Changer and All Are Saved were both lauded by critics; then these slower tracks might not work for you. Though wherever you lie in this spectrum, all of the songs are worth your time, and should give anyone an appreciation of what Thomas does.
You can stream Aftering on all platforms, or order it directly from either Bandcamp or from Polyvinyl Records. Fred Thomas will be on tour in Texas tonight with Owen at White Oak Music Hall, and will be out with Anna Burch and Common Holly starting October 10 at MOTR in Cincinnati.
Image Credits: Photo by Miles Larson.