Now It's Overhead

Fall Back Open (Saddle Creek)

Mar 24, 2004 at 4:00 am
Now It's Overhead has the distinction of existing in two of this country's best-loved musical communities. Led by singer-songwriter Andy LeMaster, the band hails from the longtime musical hotbed of Athens, Georgia, and releases its records on Omaha, Nebraska, imprint Saddle Creek. Despite these connections, Now It's Overhead sounds nothing like the reverential psych-pop that defined Athens in the '90s, nor does the band rely on fractured bedroom musings and sparse Midwestern twang like many Omaha acts. Now It's Overhead specializes in darkly romantic pop music, where the marriage of weighty themes and quick-paced music keeps the ship afloat. On Fall Back Open, Now It's Overhead dabbles in the darkness but refuses to be overwhelmed by it, and LeMaster's high-flying vocals keep things from getting too bogged down.

LeMaster is responsible for most of the sounds on Fall Back Open, but he is occasionally buoyed by the ladies of Azure Ray, another band that splits time between Athens and Omaha. More notably, Athens' own musical ambassador (and sometime-musician) Michael Stipe sings some nice backup vocals on "Antidote."

The album deals in part with human interactions and how anonymity (in the dark of a club or by masquerading in a chat room) has altered our perceptions of intimacy. It may sound dystopian and hopeless, but on the opener, "Wait in a Line," the anticipation of the dance club's communal gyrations might have you reaching for your black eyeliner and leather slacks. For those of you still buying My Bloody Valentine vinyl reissues or Cure B-side collections, Now It's Overhead serves as a nice, modern update of those gloomy atmospheric forebears.