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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fahri Finds Its Milwaukee Groove

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Milwaukee trio Fahri's song “Lazy Fruit” begins in defiance of its own title. With its rolling drumbeat and poppy guitars, it expels an air of delicious nervousness—the kind of thrills that come from campy horror movies, grade-school recitals, roller coasters or the move to a new city.

“Live/ live from the studio/ They had us on the radio,” guitarist/vocalist Miles Murray sings with a bit of a quaver. The emotion is translated well on this first song from the group's latest album, Final Disconnect Notice.

“It's about [playing on WMSE],” says Sarah Long, Fahri's other guitarist/vocalist, recalling an in-studio performance on the Milwaukee radio station. “We were really, really nervous and we hadn't been playing in the city for that long.”

Long grew up in Waukegan, Ill., and Murray hails from there as well. After moving to Milwaukee, they had to search for bands to play with in the city.

“Brief Candles were some of the first people we met,” Murray says.

“The first show we played with them was at the Riverwest Commons, and they were still living in Peoria, Ill., at that time, and we were from Waukegan,” Long says. “We got hooked up through some friends. We also became friends with Riles Walsh and Zack Pieper [The Trusty Knife, Candliers, Farms in Trouble] and that whole Activities [Recordings] crowd. We found Absolutely on Myspace and really liked them, so we asked them to play a show with us at Cactus Club.”

Finding musical friends helped Fahri gain ground in an unfamiliar scene and gave them new experiences to write about. Final Disconnect Notice is heavy on the Milwaukee, not the Waukegan, in both sight and sound. And even though the new album sometimes buries itself in “angst,” Murray notes that “there's a silver lining in it.”

Final Disconnect Notice
, more than two years in the making, is Fahri's strongest album yet—the band's homage to the '90s strong/soft style of indie. But don't think the '90s aspect is part of a newfound fad.

“I've been writing and playing music since the '90s, so it irks me a little bit when people make it sound like we're trying to sound like the '90s—especially because the '90s are becoming very popular again,” Long says.

“We've been writing music like this since the '90s—it's that old,” she adds with a laugh.

It's a sound that is all their own, though it calls to mind days-of-yore bands such as Superchunk and Sonic Youth as well as modern-day keepers of the flame Yuck and No Age.

The album cover's sparseness directs attention to the lyrics that lie beneath, recalling the members' lives at the moment and also paying tribute to a city the band is just beginning to truly call home.

“I think in the album art we pay homage to Milwaukee,” Long says. “It's got the 53212 Riverwest address on there. I would say that the nicer, more upbeat songs are about Milwaukee. 'Lazy Fruit' and 'Barflys' were songs we wrote about all the great people we met here. Like, 'Oh, man, I'm feeling down and lonely,' but I've got these friends that are always like, 'Hey, come out and hang out and have a beer.'”

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