Netherlands - Full Moon 246 - 09/16/16
Inside The Dragon
Tiny Room Records
A new one from the lo-fi pop-rock with a twist quintet from Utrecht, The Low Countries. We had a close encounter with their previous album Monkey Pop during the summer of 2015. I don't know if the band's ambitions have increased, but the number of tracks have grown impressively. Apart from the digital version, to be found on Bandcamp, there is a limited edition double LP available. 30 tracks lasting 1 hour, 12 minutes and 49 seconds. To quote Stefan Breuer of Lost Bear and Tiny Room Records: 'For many reasons, it's a very special album to me. We've been working on it quite a while, but it has been the most fun and most rewarding album I've made in my life. It's also the longest, haha!'
Inside you can find lo-fi rock and punk fuelled adrenaline pills ("Electric Utopia", "Inflatable Jesus", "The Honesty Trains", "Wolfman" and "Between My Legs" to name some), warped lo-fi pop-grunge ("Excessive Violins"), lo-fi, mid-tempo rock with a left-field excursion- interlude ("Everybody Loves Hanuta"), lo-fi pop (the long "Magic Wallet" and the short vocal-distorted "Garden Of Nettles"), lo-fi blues-folk (the very short "Nos Photos Parlantes") and so on. "Sugarheart (Diabetic For A Week)" doesn't only have a great title, but also charming merry lo-fi pop verses and more stern rock choruses through the noise. A favourite!
In between the distorted guitars, occasional ditto vocals and drums, there are some almost clean songs to ease your ears for a while. "Malenky Bit Nasty" stands out in this respect, nice slow melancholic pop, even the guitar doesn't sound very distorted. "Wind, Hat, Blown, Wet" to some extent and "Rainbow Weaver" in particular are weaved of singer songwriter stuff and not distorted at all. Really nice! Sometimes the Bear wanders off in more adventurous musical directions. For instance, "African Barbershops" has a touch of, yes, African, highlife in combination with a touch of blues and Jim Morrison alike vocals, whereas "Craaash!" is a bit oriental mystical with blues-soul vocals and electronics. Another favourite is the title track, a bit hushed affair, even more mystic, due to the soaring guitar and ghost sounding keyboards in the background. "Count Count" continues in the hushed-down trial at first, then a steady, fuzzy, next to one chord guitar enters and the intensity increases. Not bad at all! And sometimes the Bear gets lost in odd ditties. "Gnang Nang Nang" is a short and strange and funny interlude and "Radio Telescopes" has touches of a tribal part, sort of. A bit of weird psychedelia both here and there, perhaps.
Too much of a good thing can sometimes be too much. I'm really not inclined for so much lo-fi at a time. Two single albums might have worked better for me. On the other hand, you can play as many or as few songs at a time that you please. And be surprised by something you didn't notice the previous time you heard it. Happy hunting!
Copyright © 2016 JP