Tuesday, January 18, 2011


“Alta” b/w “Gift Horse in the Mouth” Vinyl 7-inch

This Tucson, Arizona group of artists debuts on Fort Lowell Records with a sweet 7-inch vinyl release of two tracks which form a Jekyll & Hyde persona. “Alta” is playful, wildly swinging for the fences with spacey charm and a kinetic, dreamy feel. The song is frantic at first but molds into something bouncy and anthem heavy, resulting in a tone that’s like a parade just outside your window. It’s built around psychedelic atmospherics, swirling guitar and hollowed out vocals that seem either distant or hiding inside your ear. Its atmosphere is accented by strong lyrics. Take note of lines like “Jesus won’t answer my wicked soul” or “Sometimes we fail/Sometimes we fail/If the heavens won’t hold you tight/The ground surely will.” It’s the last words we hear as the remainder of the song is embraced by swirling guitar winding out playfully, like paper floating on the breeze. Inside this single track is surely half an album’s worth of ideas.

“Gift Horse in the Mouth” is quite the opposite, beautiful in its murky calamity and disjointed beauty. The keyboard playing is bountiful, church-like, as if some aged opera is being banged away at by an unconventional rock star. The playing bears a sixties twangy texture. It’s crazed and punchy, only stopping nearly midway for low slung harmonizing.

Not sure how Fort Lowell is handling this, but the “Alta” track was remixed by three different artists resulting in three wholly different and engaging versions. Jacob Safari’s has a version rich with Casio/video game ambiance and the remix by Fort Lowell label mates ….music video? turn in something more tribal and rustic – a bevy of staccato stick beats against the vocals. Kurt Snell’s remix boasts old school video game effects but the track is primarily drenched in static and soft squash beats as the vocals slip through like a criminal. Don’t know if these three remixes are available but they’re interesting reworkings of the original “Alta” and mirror what Dead Western Plains has created already.

Their focus is rich in mood and texture, and the result is ambitious as it is marvelous. Like Tomandandy, Dead Western Plains seems to be adept at using technology to create more than just ambiance. The music elicits more than, say, clothes on the rack. It conjures up what several floors are carrying – clothes and their varying colors, their fabrics, their genders and designs. The layers here add up to more here than mere catchy music. It’s a neural network.

-Brian Tucker

Available here: