Fall Back Open

Author: Todd Berry
03/29/2004 | | | Album Review
Though it may not seem like it on first, or even third, listen, Fall Back Open is one of the catchiest records you're likely to hear this year. Don't let it's pop sensibilities fool you, though; it is also an amazingly well crafted album, with enough bends and turns to keep even the most cynical listeners interested.

Andy LeMaster, frontman for NIO, is part of the ever-incestious Saddle Creek scene, and as such is no stranger to the label's fans (he has toured several times with Bright Eyes and Azure Ray [who make up half of NIO]). In fact, the one-sheet even proclaims "The talents of the band are augmented by guest vocals from Michael Stipe and Conor Oberst", facts that in no way detract from the record (good luck even figuring out where they appear without the liner notes). Just like an increasing number of Saddle Creek artists, Fall Back Open relies heavily on electronic rhythms but, just like label mates The Good Life and Azure Ray, NIO successfully crafts a unique sound from them, using drum machines and sound effects in a wholly creative and imaginative way.

From the start of track two, it is likely you will be hooked on this record. It will likely be ingored by the mainstream, which is a complete shame; LeMaster has achieved something special on this record, and it deserves attention. Fall Back Open will open windows of emotion, nostalgia, warmth, and just plain rock, all in the same 38 minute span, and really, what more can you ask from a record?
Fall Back Open

Fall Back Open

CD / MP3