Will signing to Serj Tankian's label be the big break for local Texas faves Fair to Midland?
Fair to Midland are one of those bands who, having built up a vocal and fiercely loyal local following, are in danger of reaching the saturation point -- that long, lonely stretch of time in which a band "almost made it big". They formed in 1998, put out a few independent releases, but never really turned many heads outside their native Texas. Why haven't they made it big, you ask? The answer's none too flattering, if prosaic -- the band's just not that exciting. There may be some uptick in activity and interest post-signing to Serj Tankian's Serjical Strike Records and the upcoming label debut, but if you don't hear The Drawn and Quartered EP, you won't be missing much. This is straightforward hard rock with predictably psychedelic melodic interludes. "Orphan Anthem '86" echoes Arcade Fire's dramatic, swirling indie until it breaks into melodic hard rock (and heads downhill). Darroh Sudderth sounds at times like Brian Molko -- a harsh, nasal quality not unexpected in this genre. The couple of live tracks are actually softer, more intimate (and more interesting) than the demos on this EP, and that's at least a hope: "A Seafarer's Knot" is a rollicking, epic sea shanty, stretched out and full-sounding. This demo/live EP is too insubstantial to give us a true indication of Fair to Midland's potential -- you could listen and hope, or you could just skip to the next band clamoring for your attention.