Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

« Previous Post | Pop & Hiss Home | Next Post »

Download this NOW: Tim Fite's Halloween carnival

October 31, 2008 |  2:30 pm

By the time this post goes live, it will be late afternoon/early evening on the East Coast, which is bad news for music fans. That means there's not much time left to download a free EP from Brooklyn-based artist Tim Fite, at least from a reputable website.

The run-down:

Who is this? Fite is a weirdo, in the best possible sense. He's released two albums via Epitaph's Anti- Records off-shoot, a label home to the likes of Tom Waits and Neko Case, among others. Before signing with Anti-, Fite was in a short-lived but goofy hip-hop act dubbed Little-T and the One Track Mike. The latter had one minor hit with a song titled "Shaniqua."

What's he sound like?
Fite is all over the map. But he's likely to paste together songs with folksy guitars, hip-hop effects and all sorts of toy-like sounds. The one constant is his dry, speak-song vocals, looped on top of each other to sound as if there's a whole chorus of Fites behind each track. There's an easygoing whimsy to his melodies, like a sculpture pasted together with construction paper -- it's a bit rough around the edges, but colorful, and almost juvenile. At least until you realize many of his lyrics are about sexual frustration and being broke. But it's never tiresome, as many of his songs have a self-deprecating charm, and he's known to get political from time to time (see last year's free download, the vicious "Over the Counter Culture"). But even if he's ranting, Fite's harmless. He's the guy at the end of the bar drinking alone and tossing off one-liners based on the television news, lashing out at everything from Wal-Mart to some guy with cleaner clothes than he has. Live, his shows are a cartoonish vaudeville act, with stick-figure animation, exaggerated facial expressions and, if you're lucky, monsters made out of clay.

So what's this about a free EP? Fite released a six-song Halloween EP, dubbed "Ding Dong Ditch." He's threatening to pull it down as soon as the calender hits Nov. 1, so click this link and download the thing. Fite is so criminally under-the-radar that he apparently released one of these free Halloween EPs last year, but this writer wasn't even aware of it, despite it a) being my job to know such things and b) having written positive about Fite since 2005. And even though Fite's affiliated with one of the largest and most respected indie labels in all the land, he is wildly independent all his own. He insisted upon releasing "Over the Counter Culture" for free, even though Anti- was willing to put it out, and we're told label President Andy Kaulkin didn't even have a copy of "Ding Dong Ditch" as of late Thursday (Pop & Hiss tried to get it early).

So, is this free "Ding Dong Ditch" EP good? Yes, but it's free, so just give it a shot. It's the sound of a man having a grand Halloween gala in his own apartment, overindulging on candy and going nuts with his laptop. He's dancing with the deceased love of his life in "Dead Girl Walking," a song graced with all sorts of Broadway-worthy orchestrations. Later, on "Keep Me Company," he turns a mediation on life, love and death into a desperate, mini-horror film. It begins with some spacey, Flaming Lips-like synth effects, and then breaks off into a mix of smattering beats, haunted house-like effects, and Fite's manic plea that he doesn't want to die alone. Instead, he wants to spoon forever in a coffin, or at least I think that's what the song is about. Hey, it's a Halloween EP, it's allowed to be a little creepy. But it gets gleefully demented when Fite starts trying to lap the beats by singing nursery rhymes. Yet the showcase song here is the disco anthem "Give Me Candy." The background "gimmie gimmie" vocals are a hoot, the club-ready effects create an easy-to-shake-it groove, and like the best of Halloween parties, it's a mix of fear (the candy apples are spiked with rusted razor blades) and crazed anticipation (Fite wants to do all sorts of, umm, adult activities over mounds of powdered sugar).

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Anti- Records