Fred Argir is a Minneapolis-based musician, recording artist, and Grammy Recording Academy member. Argir, who has over 30 years of recording and performing experience has released seven albums and one single over ten years, all written, produced, and engineered himself. He plays all the instruments himself, with exception of the live drums, which on his latest 12 track album, “No Pushover”, is executed by Derek Abrams. This is an amazing record. It’s probably Fred Argir’s best so far, something that becomes ever more apparent with the passage of each track. It’s a great rock n’ roll record because for reasons of technology, fashion or context it doesn’t sound of its time, or any time for that matter.
In a time when engineers and producers are taking advantage of new technology to make records as full and overwhelming as possible – Fred Argir makes “No Pushover” very easy to listen to. It might not be smooth and lush or impeccably hi-fi, but the vocal melodies, the guitar lines, and the thumping drums – are always foregrounded.
All its raw gritty sounds are evident, and for all the ferocity of the guitars, the instrumental set-up never hides them. Track for track, this is one of the most solid indie rock albums released this year. It is of course, abrasive, but it is not inaccessible.
It may take some time to get through the squalls of hardcore grit, but once you do, it is easy to see that this actually is a very melodic album. The guitars wail and scream and Fred Argir uses his instrument like the genre initially intended. The drums are extremely loud, but go with the music so well. They are always in the forefront, and it sounds as if Derek Abrams is playing right next to you.
The last component is, of course, Argir’s incomparable roaring vocals. The album opens with “Beggar’s Anthem” A song that really shows how raw the production is. The guitars are loud and obnoxious, and very high in the mix, which makes this track unique. The drums are crisp, and Fred Argir climbs into this one like a madman. An excellent opener.
The music just manages to outweigh the lyrics on “Not Much To Do” with such great guitar work. However it has the best of both worlds, making for one superb upbeat song. “Shake You” is actually different from the rest of the album, as it is slower, with acoustic slants.
However it is a very high-caliber track, with Argir forging superb vocals. I love the guitar and drums on “Make Me Stupid”, with the vocals pushed into reverb, backwards in the mix. “Watching The Days Slip”, is one of my favorite songs on the album. It works up a mean groove, and once again the guitar and vocals shine.
“The Wall” brings some cleaner guitars into the mix with a vocal that leans toward the emotional Heartland rock sound. The angular guitars on “Try” truly resonate very strongly with me, in a track that is more than the sum of its parts. “What Do You Think” is filled with vocal aggression, as Argir puts on his big voice.
“Time Machine without a Key” sees Fred Argir surprisingly turn up the volume on a string arrangement which fits neatly into the slow-burning beat. “Lies on the Brick Wall” delivers a fury of knockout punches, before we encounter the wall of guitars in “Fool”.
Fred Argir lets loose and hits his stride on the album closer, “Every Day’s a Friday Night”, which is very reminiscent of early Springsteen – who ironically, at the time was lauded with being the future of rock n’ roll.
Sadly, today, Fred Argir is one of the few rockers who still endeavor to present rock in its purest form. The others can be heard on rock radio. “No Pushover” is one of those albums that just feels right: it’s inviting, accessible and charming, while also abrasive, loud and raw.