|Commentary and photos by Jeff Rey
© Copyright 2004 NEON, blue door productions
All rights reserved
|“People come from all around to catch a glimpse of this new sound.”
So goes the first vocal line of the Fashion’s “This New Sound.” And the song could be the band’s manifesto. Although the jangly, sparse rhythms and Jesse Davis’ conversational, offhand vocals are going to remind some of the Strokes, the Fashion very much have their own 'new sound'. They’ve taken everything down to the bare essentials with drummer Daniel Boivin and bassist Darryl Specht sometimes providing little more that a metronomic beat that guitarist (and sometime lead vocalist) Jacob Bills overlays with on-beat, short-stroked, staccato rhythms or simplistic, single note lead lines. Davis carries the melody (what there is of it) with an aloof delivery that is sometimes reminiscent of Iggy Pop (i.e., “The Passenger”) or Lou Reed (pick a song). At times, it almost seems that Davis is merely slapping his hand against his thigh for a beat and singing a cappella to show the rest of the band how the song goes. At other times the Fashion’s songs take on a jaunty, almost cabaret feel as on their bouncy “Good Intentions” where the rhythms become more involved, or delve into retro-garage rock as with “The Surf Song.” This minimalist approach is effective at getting to the very essence of rock ‘n’ roll, but damn, these songs are so strong I can almost hear a sustained second guitar and back-up singers pushing these tunes to their full power. But, I guess that’s missing the point. I also want to hear the White Stripes as a foursome with a real bass and a killer rhythm guitarist, but it ain’t gonna happen, is it?
The Fashion (who may, or may not have named themselves with a touch of irony – they do look fashionable) are fairly recent additions to New York’s new music scene. The four were all classmates at Indiana Wesleyan where the group originally formed at the end of 2002. They recorded the EP Lovely and Guilt Free in Spring 2003 and got into the New York groove last August, eventually hooking themselves up with renown manager/promoter Kerri Black who many credit for starting the initial buzz on the Strokes (and others). The Fashion have been putting on a lot of shows around town and plan to release a second recording shortly. Yet, this is still a young (and raw) band and the gigs we’re seen indicate they’re still learning the dimensions of the New York stage and the zeitgeist of their audience, but we think perhaps the vocal outro to “This New Sound” may in fact prove prophetic: “People come from all around to get a glimpse of this new sound ... What have we done? Right around the corner from here they’re selling records…”