Similar to how Bob Dylan‘s “All Along the Watchtower” gained wider attention through Jimi Hendrix‘s incendiary cover, Dean Fertita‘s “Parallel” made music news headlines several years after being laid to tape, through The Dead Weather bandmate Jack White‘s quirky, angular-blues cover version. And that’s a good thing.
The original “Parallel” is fantastic. This slower tune has a balanced mix with a lush, warm dynamic range. While not overplayed, Fertita’s jangled, delay-soaked synth and stringwork is also not underplayed: a skillset he’s honed in bands from The Waxwings to Queens of the Stone Age. The song reflects back to the heights of New Wave, 80s pop, and 60s British psychedelic flair. It’s not all soft coziness: there are edges here, and they’re sharp. The instrumentation invokes some of the sensible, controlled power stabs in modern indie rock. It’s irresistibly alluring; it’s affable, free-spirit nature pulls you in.
Drumming provided by The Afghan Whigs‘s Michael Horrigan is steady, solid, and not excessively flashy: the perfect backbone to the tune. Bass guitar is complementary – played to the song “in the pocket”. Fertita’s adept lead vocal floats along, accenting the melody line. Very richly intertwined layers of harmonized backing vocals (sung by both Fertita and collaborator Brendan Benson, of The Raconteurs and solo acclaim) add color and depth. Unique, faintly haunting vocal lines are often “phrased as if spoken”, flowing like conversational dreamscapes, rather then being pinned to the rhythmic divisions in verses and choruses. This avant-garde approach is riveting and rare. Penned by Benson, “Parallel”‘s lyrics are introspective, plaintive, and evocative – a welcome change of pace from the abrasive “life sucks, then you die” common fare listeners are battered by so often.
The official video, by Tomato, is nice – it features swirling, entwining, complementary colors. Sometimes, imaginative dark shadows or ‘voids’ appear. The concept is very nicely illustrated and ‘simply’ executed. The only drawback to the video is that it shaves about two minutes off the ‘album version’ of the song. This is a subtle encourager: if you like what you hear, you’re going to adore the record – buy it and spend some quality time with this artist’s music. The entire eponymous Hello=Fire debut, released on Schnitzel Records in 2009, is diverse and impressive; the song most similar to “Parallel” seems to be the inward-gazing, gentle, slightly melancholic “Nature of Our Minds”. Overall, “Parallel” is a really well-crafted rock song found on a really well-crafted psych pop rock album; recommended for fans of “garage rock”, power pop, psychedelia, and their ilk.
Enough reviewer banter… Check it out!