Monday, July 29, 2013

New White Fence, Colter Harris

Cyclops Reap
* * * *

Cyclops Reap is the most solid album yet from a guy who isn’t really fond of albums.  Tim Presley’s mission statement, the titanic two-part Family Perfume, was culled from 80 four-track doodles; Cyclops Reap was originally to be a similar compilation before Presley realized he had enough new material for a regular album.  The relatively clean production and concise structure of Cyclops Reap might be seen as cause for alarm given some of the recent pop moves made by Presley’s contemporaries (Thee Oh Sees’ Floating Coffin, The Fresh & Onlys’ Long Slow Dance); however, easy to listen to doesn’t always mean pop, and the most remarkable thing about Cyclops Reap is how it finds ways to bend your mind amid such sober production.  “Pink Gorilla” epitomizes this approach, pitting a Syd Barrett-esque ditty against a guitar lead that sounds like it was run through a field of broken GameBoys.  A few songs on here are remarkably straightforward, most notably the gorgeous Dead pastiche “Only Man Alive,” but they work just as well as the headier shit.  While such forays into “pop” territory generally indicate an artist settling into a style or acknowledging an established reputation, Cyclops Reap feels like a step forward for Presley, one that puts him on the edge of something far greater and far gnarlier.

* * * 1/2

Two singles into his career, Santa Cruz singer-songwriter Colter Harris is still at the point where he could plausibly use a selfie as a single cover; at this stage it’s impossible to tell if his successes are talent or coincidence.  “Wasted” is 2:29 and feels significantly longer than that, but in the best way possible; it fits a lot into those minutes and is a pretty great pop song of the multi-section Sgt. Pepper-template variety.  But he’s not exactly trying to make the shitgaze “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite”--it’s a punk song and feels as effortless as one.  Only time will tell if Harris will continue making songs like this, but “Wasted” has my curiosity extremely piqued.

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