Guys. GUYS. I have a SERIOUSLY AMAZING CAN’T-BELIEVE-IT record right now. It’s FRED THOMAS!! You
should definitely already know this guy from Saturday Looks Good To Me; you might also know him from City Center or any number of other projects he’s been a part of (His Name Is Alive, Mighty Clouds, Swimsuit, Lovesick, Flashpapr, White Blue Yellow & Clouds). He’s had associations/put out releases with several notable record labels, including ones he’s run himself (most recently that’d be Life Like), as well as the inimitable K Records, plus there’s the label who’s putting out this newest incarnation of his solo project (along with many other past projects): POLYVINYL! This record is obviously a slam-dunk; we hit the Top 20 Adds chart in week 1 and already slammed onto the Top 200 Albums chart in week 2! I still wanna see some huge jumps up that chart though, so let’s push the crap out of it. Here come a bunch more words about this:
I’ve been a superfan of Fred’s for like at least a decade (since I discovered Saturday Looks Good To Me in college)(!), and when I met him when I first moved to New York back in 2007 I couldn’t believe that a dude that cool/musician I admired that much could possibly give me the time of day. I can’t believe these days that I get to brag that I know him, let alone that I’m actually PROMOTING HIS NEW RECORD ON POLYVINYL! And you guys, I’m not kidding about this, I honestly think this is the best album the guy has ever released. I see it as kind of like a culmination of everything else he’s put out thus far in his career. It’s like he’s been working toward making THIS record this whole time. It incorporates the pop sensibilities and sweet melancholy of Saturday Looks Good To Me, the specific, empathetic storytelling of his previous solo work, and the glitchy experimental production/atmospheric electronic instrumentals of City Center (and several of his other projects). He makes the kind of music that can overwhelm your heart with a flood of Sincere Emotions About Everything In The World, but still so seems so intensely, intimately personal and specific that you know these are stories that come from a person with a superbly keen eye, a warm heart and an obsessive attention to detail; a person you’d want to know IRL and kind of feel like you already do. The scope of these songs is tiny and huge all at once. They make me feel like if I listen hard enough I’ll learn something deep and real about what life is for. Everybody else seems to agree, seriously, like Stereogum gave it a full-album stream, Pitchfork gave it an 8.0, Impose did a particularly thoughtful interview (that’s with Liz Pelly, formerly of WTBU!), Paste also did a nice interview, Fader did an early track preview, BreakThru Radio did a session at SXSW (where btw I also caught a set of his that left my jaw on the floor)…you get the picture. This record is a BIG DEAL.
We did send out hard copies of this record (although a few less than usual), but especially if your radio station is one that broadcasts on actual airwaves and thus needs to adhere to those pesky FCC standards, I HIGHLY recommend grabbing the download as well, because most of the best tracks are also the ones with the dirtiest words (it’s def not a nasty/”explicit”/ugly-hearted record, but Fred just uses a lot of the standard F’s and S’s that pretty much everyone in this century uses in everyday conversation but our nanny state still prevents us from broadcasting), but the download has clean edits for ALL of them (except for a “damned” on track 8 if that word matters to you – that one stayed in). Get on it! Seriously. This is not a drill!!!!!
ALL ARE SAVED
Though a small audience of ravenous music fans could cite Fred Thomas as the brains behind Michigan’s Saturday Looks Good To Me, even most of those obscurists might have blinked for long enough to miss portions of Thomas’ 15 year stretch of constant output with projects as diverse as his aforementioned pop band, experimental noise acts or his own softspoken solo material.
Never settling down for a second, he’s spent the last decade-and-a-half flying just beneath the radar of most listeners, but amassing a dedicated grassroots collection of fans, friends, collaborators, and admirers.
Those well acquainted with his anomalous approach to music and anti-networking are never surprised when Fred rolls through town unannounced playing drums in some random touring band (including Calvin Johnson‘s The Hive Dwellers or Ian Svenonius‘s Chain And The Gang) or they get an email that says he’s just released three new solo records in infinitesimally limited numbers.
So all of this brings us to All Are Saved, technically the eighth Fred Thomas solo album, but the first one many people will get a chance to hear.
The result of over a year of recording, refinement and long-labored sonic sculpting, these eleven tracks are the culmination of everything he’s done before, while being a decidedly bold move into brand new territory.
Heavy, poetic lyrics are more spoken than sung, recalling the urgency and straightforwardness of cult bands like The Van Pelt or Life Without Buildings, while each song builds on a patchwork of grainy samples, dreamlike guitar figures and deftly produced clashes of organic instrumentation with vintage synth textures.
Fred’s dabblings in melancholic chamber pop (SLGTM), ambient electronics (City Center), jangly but angular guitar playing (Failed Flowers), experimental production and jaw-droppingly confessional lyricism are all distilled into one unflinching statement.
These are the raw nerves of the friendliest guy at the party, spilling out shamelessly naked feelings. It’s there in full force on the stream of consciousness protest song from a dream “Cops Don’t Care Pt. II,” in the venomous bile of “Bad Blood” and in the heartbreaking grief that triggers a continuum of memories on “Every Song Sung To A Dog.”
No prior knowledge of Fred’s vast resume is necessary, and that’s kind of the point; All Are Saved is a singular document that requires no explanation and will immerse you in its strange, heavy beauty.
Painstakingly assembled between Detroit, Michigan and Athens, Georgia, the album features mixing assistance from Drew Vandenburg (of Montreal, Deerhunter) and guest spots from friends in bands like People Get Ready, Radiator Hospital, Known Moons and even a guest backing vocal cameo from Andrew W.K.
RIYL: Saturday Looks Good To Me, City Center, BARR, Mount Eerie, Jason Anderson, Yo La Tengo, Karl Blau
Start With: 1, 4, 6, 8 (dirty but use CLEAN EDITS in the download!) or 5, 2 (CLEAN on disc)
FCC 1, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 CLEAN EDITS IN DOWNLOAD [edits only leave “damned” (8) remaining]
Contact me for a download link if you’re a radio rep!
5/6 – Detroit, MI – UFO Factory (album Release Party)
5/7 – Lakewood, OH – Mahall’s 20 Lanes
5/8 – Boston, MA – The Womb
5/9 – Providence, RI – The Parlour
5/10 – New York, NY – Elvis Guesthouse
5/11 – Brooklyn, NY – Palisades
5/12 – Philadelphia, PA – lava space
5/13 – Raleigh, NC – Neptunes
5/14 – Asheville, NC – Tiger Mountain
5/15 – Atlanta, GA – Drunken Unicorn
5/16 – Knoxville, TN – Pilot Light
5/17 – Louisville, KY – The New Vintage
5/19 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle
6/25 – Seattle, WA – Therapy
6/26 – Portland, OR – Bunk Bar
6/27-28 – Guerneville, CA – Deathstock
6/29 – Oakland, CA – 1-2-3-4 Go! Records
6/30 – Los Angeles, CA – Pehrspace