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The Fearless Freep

Named for an obscure character in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, the Montreal-based lo-fi guitar-pop group The Fearless Freep issued their excellent debut record, No Less Sordid, in late 1997. It featured eighteen beautifully noisy pop songs built from layers of guitar, drums, noise, and toy instruments. Recorded onto four-track in their own "Space City Studio," the results were fuzzy and organic like The Grifters, Guided by Voices, and Railroad Jerk. This was indie rock in its purest form, friends writing and recording carefully thought-out songs in the privacy of their own home, artfully using the hiss and compression of their inexpensive home recorder to enhance their craft in the time-honored manner of recluses and minimalists like Lou Barlow to create an enjoyable and personal pop album.

Original drummer George Agetees pulled out after that album, leaving singer Robert John Stephens as the sole remaining Freeper. Rather than pack it in, he gathered some of his buddies and made a new album in 2001 titled And Fall Is How You Sleep. Like its predecessor, the record features warm roughshod arrangements full of rough edges and sleepy moods -- like a dusty late summer afternoon somewhere out in the backcountry. Sparklehorse and Sebadoh might come to mind, but Stephens' rough drawl and lazy guitar style give his music a quality all of its own.

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