Reviews

Fall Back Open

Author: Heath Renfroe
07/09/2004 | Southern Voice | www.sovo.com | Album Review
This article was first published by the Southern Voice in Atlanta.

In a world full of soulless pop confections and cookie cutter rap exploits, it is sometimes hard to find artists with substance and albums that have a shelf life of more than three hit singles.

Only through cunning observations and well crafted minstrelsy comes musical success. Enter Now It's Overhead, an Athens-based band created and fronted by studio mastermind Andy LeMaster.

LeMaster, who says his sexual orientation takes a back seat to how he views his music, landed a coveted slot on acclaimed independent record label Saddle-Creek Records an Omaha-based company that has recently stormed the national spotlight with consistently good bands.

LeMaster has made a living out of recording and mixing music for the likes of R.E.M and fellow label-mates Azure Ray and Bright Eyes. His skills in the studio are also evident on his own sophomore effort, "Fall Back Open," on which LeMaster unites his technical know-how with his undeniable talent to create a CD that measures up to the high standards he sets for himself.

In Now It's Overhead, LeMaster combines his own musical savvy with the ghostly melodic voices of Azure Ray's Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor as well as the militarily precise drumming of Lona's Clay Leverett to form a truly unique line up that covers creative territory from electro-pop to moving ballads.

LeMaster and the band hit the road in the U.S. and Europe this summer with a stop in Atlanta July 20 at the Earl in East Atlanta.

"Fall Back Open" presents a cor-nucopia of musical stylings, including electro-spiced tracks like "Reverse" and "Profile" that beg to be re-mixed into dancehall favorites. The album adds subtle ballads that intertwine raw emotion with musical wizardry like the record's final track, "A Little Consolation."

Of the more pop-tinged songs, the album's first single, "Wait in a Line," is a noteworthy tune. Lyrically, the song details and critiques LeMaster's own nightlife experiences.

Once you have a firm grip on the lyrical aspect of a LeMaster song, the next enjoyable task is to contend with the music and vocals.

The single is set for release July 27. It will feature a cover of "The Book of Love," a hit from another gay-led indie band that is receiving widespread national attention, Magnetic Fields. The release will also include a re-mixed version of "Wait in a Line" by The Faint, another Saddle-Creek band.

Now it's overhead goes on to create other recordings that, while pop in nature, possess very sexually charged lyrics. For Lemaster, brutal honesty is essential in his music.

That's evident on "Surrender," where he cleverly guises explicit lyrics with a softness that erases the seeming impurity of his lyrical structure.

"Hands over my head/Face down I surrender/Love is taking me in/Open shut, undefended."

Any reference to love or sex that appears in LeMaster's music has an unabashedly gay air to it, but using his sexual orientation to pad his music isn't one of the musician's goals, he says.

"I think of my sexual preference as being a part of my personality and not really being a focal point, but it does come through in the music," LeMaster says. "Even in songs where it is referred to, my goal is to make my music about the human condition, not the homo-condition.

"Hopefully it's a way that allows other people to relate more equally to people with other sexual preferences, because they can see the humanity in it," he adds.

"Fall Back Open" is in stores now.
Fall Back Open

Fall Back Open

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