Monday, June 23, 2008

Review: Shuteye Unison

Label: Parks and Records

Released: Spring/Summer 2008

About six or seven years ago, I bought a 7" on whim. It was only a few bucks and on colored vinyl, so I couldn't go wrong. Still nothing prepared me for what I was about to hear. That 7" was Rum Diary's Mileage EP and the title song so rejuvenated my interest in music that I began buying more music based on wild guesses than on research. I even bought an extra copy (just in case, you never know). The promise of that little EP was tremendous, but, despite several really good albums, Rum Diary never fully delivered on that promise until 2005's We're Afraid of Heights Tonight...and then they broke up.

Needless to say the reunion of Rum Diary's Jon Fee and Daniel Mackenzie in Shuteye Unison was ripe with excitement for me. After all, it was going to be another chance to hear one of those beautiful unknowns. But time had past and the lineup had changed, so how would Shuteye Unison fit into the legacy?

Shuteye Unison shares Rum Diary's ambling indie approach with wild movement beneath the surface. It's full of odd time signatures and layers that work as counterpoint to each other, giving the album a very non-pop buoyancy and driving it into post-something/anything territory.

The album is flexible on many levels. It's complicated enough to be dissected if you're so disposed, but can just as easily be experienced as a passive ride. It's broad and expansive, yet simultaneously intimate. It is every bit as complicated as you want it to be, yet no more so than you'd like (no matter where you choose to draw that line). Shuteye Unison is one of those rare bands that seems poised for film scoring. They capture moods without being focused on hooks or cleverness. It's not a riff, but a feeling that this album burns into your brain.

So, does Shuteye Unison deliver on the promise of Rum Diary, embodied in that little EP I bought years ago? Yes, absolutely. But more importantly, it makes new promises, not tied to its roots, but to its wide open future.

Satriani: 8/10
Zappa: 7/10
Dylan: 8/10
Aretha: 7/10
Overall: 8/10


If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.

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