Friday, January 18, 2013

Album Review: Corner Organs: Off - "Song & Wine"

Many of you know that I dig my dreamy shoegaze/ psychedelic music as much as I dig all the screaming and blast beating and noise of all that crazy metal shit I listen to. As some of you also may have noticed from the recent increase of independent or small-label bands being reviewed here, I'm also a big fan of the DIY scene. If there's any non-metal type of music that really fits in perfectly with the DIY attitude, it's neo-psychedelia.

Corner Organs: Off, herein called just Corner Organs, is a DIY psychedelic project founded by The Wides' guitarist Adam LeDrew back in 2005. Apparently there's like, a bajillion other members according to their Facebook page, but I'm assuming they're all artists who have contributed various sounds on all three of Corner Organ's releases which have been mainly driven by LeDrew's creative prowess.

Predominantly, Corner Organs is a rock band. Guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, and vocals are really the only instruments used on Song & Wine, and with the guitars ranging between a beautiful chorus laden, reverb-y rhythm tones to nice, saturated, overdriven lead tones. There are guitar leads that take on the obvious role of soloing over the rest of the track, but there are also many leads that are hidden beneath the many layers of music. Most of the psychedelic sounds don't come from unconventional equipment or instruments, but rather, a mastery of guitar effects and processing. Things can get trippy and completely engulfing to the point where you realize you've just been sitting down and staring at your computer screen for half an hour just listening to this album when you should have been reviewing it.

The opening track "All There Is" is a hazy, slow track, with what sounds like an ever so slightly out of tune guitar playing simple finger picked riffs and chords while vocals float off in the distance beneath a layer of distortion and organs. Things pick up right after with the bluesy and upbeat "Mini-Wall", which features some    Southern-fried slide guitar riffs and train beats which would make Jack White proud. Seriously though, "Mini-Wall" sounds like it could be an unreleased track from De Stijl. Another bluesy White-esque song is "Blood in the Road". I just can't get enough of that main riff. Again, things change up to the more melancholic "The Crown" with reversed something and sombre piano in the intro. From there, things go more straightforward with a rock track, then to a jangle-y instrumental track and another softer track called "Lonelytrip". And the album isn't even over after that.

All these changes are what really entertain me across Song & Wine's almost 40 minute run time. LeDrew and company keep things varied; they make each song distinct with its own character and personality. From happy to sad, to introspective, this is one of those albums that works perfectly for listening to while just hanging with a friend or loved one. You don't have to say anything to each other. You can just lay there and let everything wash over you. Try it sometime, and you'll thank me.

What really ties everything together and makes this the great bluesy-psychedelic album that it is, is the production. All of Song & Wine was recorded by LeDrew on a 4-track tape recorder. Yeah. Talk about DIY. But the tape adds so much character to all of the recordings. From the occasional crackle and pop to that faint buzzing noise, right up to when you hear LeDrew turn off the actual tapedeck at the end of "Lonelytrip". All this in addition to the overall warm tones the tape brings makes for an absolutely immersing experience from start to finish.

If there's anything I'd have to criticize Song & Wine with, it's be the production. "What? David, you silly fuck! You said you loved the warm analogue/ home record-y tape feel of the album. Now you're saying you don't like it? Get your shit together, man!" Well, let me explain myself. I do love the warm analogue/ home record-y tape feel of the album. I don't like how some of the tracks with loud, twangy guitar come out of my speakers with so much treble that it blows my ears off. Luckily, that only happens on "Lifeworth". I'd also like to hear some vocals where I can pick out the words. Dreamy/ distorted/ distant vocals are great, don't get me wrong, it's just that I'd like to see some variation next time around. Those are about the only complaints I have for Song & Wine.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: Mini-Wall, Good as Gone, Lonelytrip, Booze Angel

On a Playlist With: My Bloody Valentine, Alcest, John 3:16

Overall Score


Song & Wine is a beautiful album. It's timid and shy when it wants to be, and can rock out when it needs to. Corner Organs: Off is a DIY band that has the attitude down pat, using their home-brew style to craft some awesome psychedelic rock. As far as LeDrew is concerned, I enjoy his work here much more than with The Wides, but I feel like if he didn't get all his punk rocking out with them, he wouldn't be able to make such an awesome solo/ collab project.

Corner Organs: Off is on Facebook and Bandcamp. You might possibly catch them jamming out around Halifax, Nova Scotia, sometime. Who knows?

That's all for now, folks!


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