CRAIG REGALA, LOLLIPOP MAGAZINE (BOSTON, MASS) — Joe Fahey's the kinda fella I know. Involved in the guitar rockin' side of "new wave" that culminated in guys with old Stones, Dylan, and Kinks records hanging out at Replacements shows on Wednesday quarter beer nights in '85 talking about "when the Clash were good." Ten years later, it was the same club, same night, but with dollar drafts (22 oz. though) and a couple of the guys had acoustic guitars and wives. Being the Midwest, those guys kept going writing a roots-saturated singer/songwriter thing tagged "Americana." Since it was steeped in the one-man/one-melody tradition going back to some guy with a lute and a guy selling his soul down by the tracks, it's stuck around and yielded the plain spoken "this is life" reality that lay right there in the crib gurgling, smiling, and shitting its diaper.
Welcome to reality. You don't give up, you don't give in, you do what you have to and you write about it. Here comes Joe. Strumming and chiming, working snatches of melody and lightly held feedback into tunes that drop into bridges that add a bit of oomph to the folky ker chugga chugga that pulls the music out of rootsy stuff I was alluding to above, even as it hits the same emotional chord. The fella has a good grip on convention without bowing to tradition. If you can spin Lou Reed, James McMurtry, The mid-period Kinks, solo Paul Westerberg, Willie Nelson, Towns Van Zant, or heck, Robin Hitchcock, you can roll this one.
LUKE TORN, POP CULTURE PRESS (AUSTIN, TX) — Longtime Minneapolis music vet Joe Fahey hits a groove of offhand, free-spirited life-is-art wonder on Tote Bag, his first ever solo venture, following a decade leading the band Carp 18. Veering from nicely catchy guitar rockers ("Final Destination (Part XLV)") to wispy, wistful folk/pop ("Are You Here to Dance?") to "Early Bird" a jangly Tote Bag Highlight, Fahey infuses his friendly, prepossessing songs with witty humor and slice-of-life observation aplenty. Good, low-key guitar pop fun.
ROB FORBES, LEICESTER BANGS (LEICESTER, UK) — A double release - Joe Fahey is the frontman of Carp 18 - though musically, two completely different animals. Carp 18 first. The band run through a selection of rootsy rock and Midwestern pop styles on Bug Rump, giving the impression that on the right night in the right bar, they'd be a top notch night out. In fact, if they'd been around London during the early '70s pub rock explosion, we'd probably be talking about Carp 18 in the same way we talk about Eggs Over Easy or Bees Make Honey. Joe Fahey's vocal possesses the same awkward lilt as Paul Westerberg's, though it's a noticeably gentler voice - which brings us round to Fahey's Tote Bag. Far more experimental that his band's recordings, and an indication that Fahey's record collection is both large and varied. So, we get bits of the Beatles, Bright Eyes, Syd Barratt and the Flaming Lips, and a sound that's both psychedelic and sparse - which results in mood hops from trippy to forlorn. It's maybe a little too eclectic for a truly satisfying listen, though it's not without its moments. Personally, I like it best when it's spacey and abstract, with 'Porta One' my out and out favourite track.
PHIL EDWARDS, AMERICANA UK (LIVERPOOL, UK) — The Sixties revisited? — A sometime member of Carp 18, Fahey released this solo debut on Halloween 2006 so technically it shouldn’t be reviewed here as its outside our criteria of not reviewing albums that are more than six months old. But it arrived on my doorstep over a month ago so let’s not be too pedantic.
So was the wait worth it? Not really.
‘Porta One’, ‘Are You Here To Dance?’ and ‘Doesn’t It Break Your Heart?’ all lean toward a time when the Vietnam War was underway and it instigated the various demonstrations and rallies to search for peace and harmonisation which Fahey took part in. But the rest of this album is a mish mash of psychedelic sounds and seemingly random sounds.
Marred with early Pink Floyd influences during the Syd Barrett era and The Beatles during their Sergeant Pepper period, it drifts all over the place and when the dog starts barking then it’s definitely time to reach for the off button. "Animals" it definitely ain’t.
For stoned ageing hippies only.
Joe Fahey is a Minneapolis-based songwriter & guitar player. He has played bass and guitar in various cellar-dweller, and occasionally-gigging, rock and blues bands starting in the late 70s; always careful to stay out of the way of the strobe light.
Born in Minneapolis, Joe moved around the country quite a bit as a kid living in Hyde Park, New York; Boulder, Colorado; Auburn, Alabama and Marengo, Illinois.
Around 1990, he formed a band called Carp 18 with Paul Schmitt and Dave Helgerson, They releasing a cool CD called Russian Racehorse in 1997.
Carp 18 took a record length hiatus to "get it together" following the infamous Y2K Disaster and its lingering effects. But, everything seems cool now and Carp 18 is back together playing & writing music and celebrating the release of their 2nd album/record/CD "bug rump".
1. rhibrhumba (0:59)
joe: baritone guitar, non-tubular bells,
tom herbers: wurlitzer sideman, acoustic slide guitar, theramin, tabla
aquarium community: background vocals
percussion by bell & howell, great
northern railway & the freight elevator
2. Porta One (3:14)
joe: acoustic guitar, electric guitars, bass, fuzz bass
tom: skeletons-playing-fussball sounds
3. Are You Here to Dance? (2:39)
joe: acoustic guitar, electric guitars
kraig olmstead: drums
4. Any Given Tuesday (4:25)
joe: acoustic guitar, bass, arp, piano,
tom: casio, electric guitar, carnival-cruise-line-shuffleboard sounds
5. Early Bird (2:59)
joe: electric guitars, acoustic guitar,
banjo, pump organ (he said pump organ)
tom: bass, chamberlin, stylophone
bob herbers: drums and short notice
6. nordeast berlin (1:31)
joe: electric guitars, munchkin music &
7. Final Destination (Part XLV) (2:55)
joe: bass, electric guitars, acoustic guitar,
dead poet thievery
tom: piano, shakers, snare, pigeons-
john bonham: kick drum
charlie watts: snare drum
ringo starr: floor tom
d.j. bonebreak: tom-toms
keith moon: clave
8. Words to Hold Onto (2:52)
joe: acoustic guitars, electric guitar, talk box, handclaps, vox jaguar, rabid muskrat love explosion
tom: bass, acoustic slide guitar, shakers, stomp box, triangle (a vintage grimley)
9. Fancy Mansion Party (3:57)
joe: electric guitars, accordion,
pump organ (light chuckle)
tom: optigan loop (buh-duh-dah-DAH-dah), electric guitar
mike whitney: bass
logan erickson: piano, prepared piano
lucy the sheepdog: howling
10. Doesn’t it Break Your Heart? (3:40)
joe: acoustic guitar, silly strings (arp)
tom: wurlitzer electric piano, bass
kraig: congas, tambourine,
mr. roboto: cold, calculated drum beat
11. che lives in penguins (0:53)
joe: electric guitar, high strung guitar
tom: non-tubular bells
mike whitney: bass
12. Let Me Have the Sunrise (3:31)
joe: acoustic guitar
13. Electric Coffee (5:08)
joe: acoustic guitar, electric guitar
14. Fancy Mansion Party (Reprise) (2:16)
joe: high-strung guitar
tom: pump organ
Mostly recorded on 8-track tape at Third Ear in Minneapolis during the festive & stress-free holiday season of December, 2004. Additional recording was done at Can Crusher Sound & The Scotch Room, Fridley, MN.
Produced by Tom Herbers & Joe Fahey
Mixed, mastered and that kind of stuff by Tom Herbers • Studio assistance by Mike Whitney
Thanks to Mark Downey at Nerve Center for getting the CDs made
Album art, design & some photos by Joe Fahey
Tote Bag photo by Jerry Fahey, London, 1969
Tofte Riviera photo by Kathy Fahey, 2004
Dock photo, plus help putting the dock in, by Dave Helgerson 2006 (thanks, man)
Additional photos by various people
All songs by Joe Fahey
Rough Fish Music
© BMI 2006
Rough Fish Records
P.O. Box 21568
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55421