Faye - You're Better LP (white vinyl)
Faye - You're Better LP (Self Aware/USA)
Vinyl is 300 pieces on white vinyl in a limited first pressing.
In 2015, Charlotte musicians Sarah Blumenthal and Susan Plante posed a challenge to one another: learn new instruments, form a band, and call it Faye. Blumenthal was known locally for her guitar and vocals in fuzzy punk project Alright; Plante studied classical piano and once dreamed of playing in symphonies. Their experience on these instruments immediately imbued the fledgling project with distinctive style. On bass, Blumenthal focused on interlocking lines and hefty rhythmic parts, just as a guitarist might. Plante, now playing guitar and eager to get away from music theory, intuitively incorporated dissonant notes and harmonically bent solos. “We’re not married to rudiments or structurally correct ways of playing,” theorizes Blumenthal, and that’s one of the group’s many strengths.
Faye’s spacious yet driven approach to indie rock quickly attracted attention, and in 2016 the band released a debut self-titled EP on then-beloved local label Tiny Engines. Tour dates and shows with celebrated peers including Japanese Breakfast, Mannequin P*ssy and R. Ring followed shortly. “We had good stuff happen to us early,” Plante celebrates. “But some specific men locally were very dismissive and demeaning when we started this band—and we were some of the very few women playing music in our scene in Charlotte at the time,” remembers Blumenthal. Self-described introspective and anxious songwriters, Plante and Blumenthal couldn’t help but channel some of their hurt at those misdirected criticisms into their music, laying the groundwork for a longer-form release.
You’re Better is Faye’s first full length, its title an admonishing kiss-off to those who naysay the duo’s earned accomplishments, but also a hype-up reminder to one another that they’re deserving of their achievements. “Those EP songs were first draft songs, recorded all in one day,” recalls Blumenthal of Faye’s origins. “It was pretty rushed and raw.” For the album, written over the course of three years, Faye carefully melded its songwriters’ differences of taste, interweaving Plante’s love of hardcore catharsis with Blumenthal’s pop punk bonafides. They spent five days in early 2020 tracking at Sonelab, the Northampton, MA-based studio where engineer Justin Pizzoferrato has helmed Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth recordings. Pizzoferrato expertly suggested effects that approximated Faye’s live energy; in concert, both Blumenthal and Plante play through a Pro Co RAT, but their patented tone felt different in the studio. “When Justin helped pick out some of the pedals, hitting the first chord and feeling like a goddess…” Plante reminisces, before Blumenthal finishes her memory: “When it’s finally dialed in and you hit that chord, you may as well be playing to 10,000 people.” They’re joined by Thomas Berkau on drums, who’s been playing with them live since 2018 and, in keeping with Faye’s M.O., was originally a bassist. “He has a non-straightforward way of accenting on drums,” Plante enthuses of Berkau’s nearly melodic fills. “He’s a very carefree and positive person,” adds Blumenthal. “We’re all chasing a vibe.”
I saw Faye play live last night which reminded me that not only did I need to grab some copies to sell in the store, the songs take on a whole new energy live and I recommend catching them live if you can. They are on tour right now heading up the east coast. (tour dates are here : https://www.instagram.com/fayeisaband/)
Their songwriting and guitar tones will make any fans of classic underground '90s DIY music from Jawbreaker to Tsunami to That Dog feel very at home. Once upon a time classic indie supporting music venues would potentially place all three of the bands mentioned above on the same bill (hooray for diverse bills!), and yet somehow, Faye manages to culminate and channel the spirit of these fuzzy melodic popsters all in one band.