The name Nik Freitas doesn't hold as much weight in the indie-rock community as it does in the skate world. In 1999, the then-twenty-year-old photographer hit the road for Thrasher and spent the next few dozen months documenting the feats of some of the top pro skaters on the planet. He eventually returned to his home town of Visalia, California, to follow his other muse: indie rock. But don't think that the sounds emanating from his two full-lengths, 2002's Here's Laughing at You and its followup, Heavy Mellow, owe debts to either Modest Mouse or JFA. Instead, the songwriter's luscious, almost baroque pop draws from classic sources like Badfinger, Emmitt Rhodes and Wings. Beneath all the harmonic flourishes and chamber-minded melodies, though, lies a grainy lo-fi ethic that grounds Freitas's work even as it soars like an unchained spirit -- or someone catching major air on the half-pipe.
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