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Albums Of The Week: Jad & David Fair | Halloween Songs + 26 Monster Songs For Children Reissues

Get an early start on Halloweed with these two treats from the eccentric siblings.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Rock music is full of brother acts: The Everly Brothers, The Beach Boys, The Kinks, The Allman Brothers, The Osmonds, The Meat Puppets and Oasis to name a few. But there’s never been a brother act like Maryland’s own David Fair (vocals, guitar, harmonica) and Jad Fair (vocals, guitar, drums), who formed the ultimate DIY band ½ Japanese (later Half Japanese) in the mid-’70s. Starting as a blistering, art-damaged duo, they expanded into a larger group by the ’80s, recorded acclaimed albums (½ Gentlemen / Not Beasts, Loud, Sing No Evil, Charmed Life) and accumulated fans such as Kurt Cobain. David went on to pursue visual arts, occasionally recording albums. Jad has maintained the glory of Half Japanese to this very day.

1998 saw the second collaboration between the brothers outside of the band with the release of the concept album 26 Monster Songs for Children (Sing Your Babies to Sleep), which originally came out on Kill Rock Stars and now, by no coincidence, is being unleashed again by none other than KRS. All the songs are David’s, with a monster covering each letter of the alphabet and continuing on in Half Japanese’s tradition of terror-filled songs. Figuring that there wasn’t much for his five-year-old son to listen to inspired the album —  David even had his son Robinson recite the song intros and also draw the album cover. The short blast of songs (1-2 minute each) mostly include eerie, growling vocals and bluesy guitars, with creatures that span ancient mythology to modern horror films, including Bigfoot, Godzilla, Jabberwocky and Dracula.

Speaking of All Hallow’s Eve, the brothers Fair reunited 10 years later for their 4th album, 2008’s Halloween Songs (now also reissued by Kill Rock Stars). Originally planned as a holiday album, they settled on Oct. 31 since Dec, 25th already had plenty of songs attached to it. Another of David’s children inspired this album as he recorded the tracks while waiting for his daughter to finish pre-school each day. Sporting a richer but still minimal sound (with keyboards, drum programs), short tunes still rule with 21 songs in 40 minutes and guests including zombies, witches, Frankenstein and blues legend Robert Johnson while the music recalls Tom Waits and The Residents. As David notes, Halloween, and his songs celebrating it, isn’t just about spooks and scares: “it’s also about the joy of free candy and the fun of dressing up.” Appropriately, both albums are just in time for all gals and ghouls for Halloween.