Saturday, March 2, 2013

New music from Sun Clay and Christopher Owens

The Side Of The Room
* * * * 1/2

It’s difficult to tell whether the sounds on Sun Clay’s fantastic debut album, The Side Of The Room, are the products of youth or a deliberately cultivated art-naive sound.  Unprocessed, close-miked vocals dominate the sonic space as psych guitars meander in the background; it’s almost like you’re listening to the music through Skype.  Yet The Side Of The Room is a fine psych-pop album in any context, featuring a few flat-out great pop tunes (“Tame,” the title track) that approach straightforward early-rock song structure with the same artfulness Deerhunter applied to the shorter songs on Halcyon Digest.  The longer tracks are just as good, particularly the album-opening “Aging Fast” and the climactic “Kids Climbing On Top Of Cars.”  It’s possible that all of this came together so well through some remarkable coincidence and that Sun Clay are, at the moment, little more than a teen garage band trying to find a sound.  But all the best evidence suggests there’s a secret brilliance at work here beyond their years.  Definitely a band to keep an eye on.

* * *

As an expert on men, I can confidently say that the artful placement of the hair-mop obscuring Christopher Owens’ face on the cover of his post-Girls debut Lysandre does nothing to make him more attractive; he’s shooting a pretty adorable face, but his low-hanging dead skin cells make it difficult to make out.  The music on Lysandre is filled with similar cutesy distractions, mainly stemming from the unnecessary conceptual weight Owens puts on this album.  The musical motif that appears in every song becomes extremely annoying after three tracks, and the weird, pastoral flutes that toot in the background make everything sound slightly more curled-shoes.  But once you take all the extra baggage off, Lysandre is, essentially, a collection of Girls songs.  Highlight “Here We Go Again” uses quivering ‘70s organs and a great guitar solo to create the same classic-rock exhilaration that defined Girls’ work; the similarly named “Here We Go” is a shy, brooding ballad that made me believe in Owens’ luscious locks for a second.  There’s a good rock album in here somewhere; you just need to get the hair out of your eyes to see it.

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