The Fate Lions get my vote for Most Improved Player(s). In about a year’s time, they’ve gone from so-so Americana act to one of the best pop-rock bands around. I’d have to tip my hat to ‘em anyway just for doing what they’re doing: conjuring up Nick Lowe-ish, R.E.M.-y, Elvis Costello-esque ‘80s radio pop. Not only is no one in town really doing anything similar but also the early ‘80s were my formative music years – ah, memories. But the Fate Lions aren’t just aping some sort of distinctive sound from yesteryear to milk sympathy from old nostalgic tools like me. They’re being the real deal, expertly mixing jangly, cranky, countrified, Rickenbacker-tinged solos with snappy, toe-tapping beats and ooh-ahh-ing harmonies. “Astronaut” hinges on a Byrds-y, Doors-ish, Middle-Eastern guitar figure over a thumping tribal beat – accented by tambourine (awesome) – and sung by frontman Jason Manriquez either on a bullet mic or in a tin can. “Starsign” is a sunshiny ditty that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Triple-A station, and “The Girls Are Alright” is a catchy neo-Brit-pop gem whose chorus includes always lovable double hand-claps – y’know, clap-clap clap, clap-clap clap, etc. – and wry lyrics like: “Because the girls are alright / They go bump in the night / From their heads to their toes, it’s what everyone knows / Yeah, the girls are alright / They go bump in the night with me." Well, I guess Don Juan Manriquez’s confidence is well earned.
-- Anthony Mariani, FW Weekly Blotcher "Weekender 10-3"