Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Reviews:: Stacy Lloyd Brown Automatic EP



It's a descriptor that has fallen out of the vernacular of most critics these days... and rightly so I might add. All too often it feels like musicians are trying to write songs they hope people will like and end up pounding out the same synth riffs or wrestling with the same blips and bleeps. The more music you listen to, the more the songs start blending together.

But tucked in the farthest corners of this country, Halifax has a quiet, folk community that is creating truly inspired music. Whether you listen to the grandiose, theatrical arrangements of Fall Horsie, the chilling subject matter and beautiful harmonies of Ghost Bees or the frantic, herky jerky style of Alberta transplant Stacy Lloyd Brown, you will realize Halifax is producing some acts that deserve your time.

Brown's latest release - Automatic - is a tug of war between the past and the present. With a mixture of classic folk elements and programmed beats (often in the same song), Stacy is writing music that stands out. Even when something sounds familiar - like the Flaming Lips style space pop of The Motherload or the occasional tip of the cap to Neil Young - the interesting textures and transitions make it impossible to pigeonhole his sound.

When you hear the classic Appalachian mountain folk that starts Bloody Pockets, you expect Brown to stick with the rugged, foot stomping jam, but it quickly turns in a sweat soaked, club beat. Without hearing it, you'd guess that the bizarre juxtaposition should never be attempted, but that's the kind of risk/reward that comes from writing music for your own enjoyment. You might alienate fans or, as is the case with this infectious track, completely win over new ones.

But in the end I don't think that matters much to Stacy. His music seems to be a gateway inside his brain as he constantly shifts from extroverted, bold, confident sounds (like the electro-folk Living Rooms) to introverted insecurities (Strawbuck) and confessionals (the beautiful piano ballad Fire in My Bones) and a way of getting ideas out of his head and emotions off his chest. It's an extremely personal record, one that allows Brown to share his dreams and expose his fears and one that any listener hoping for something truly unique and strangely beautiful will enjoy.

The EP is packaged with a few songs from Goodbye Generation - his work with Paul MacLean - and the collaboration is a more traditional, Daniel Johnston type affair with Casio tones, acoustic strums and sonic exploration coming together in an amazing fashion. All in all, this might be one of the best local releases of the year.

Posted at 8:30 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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