Saddle Creek | Beep Beep | Reviews


Enchanted Islands

Author: Kevin Afoldy
05/04/2009 | | | Album Review
In today's varied musical landscape, it is hard for a band to stand out. The ease with which digital information is shared has made any genre of music almost completely accessible to any potential listener with the slightest inkling of curiosity. Even the most divergent, heretofore obscure sound is just a click away. And with music, just as with the proliferation of pornography in our internet age, vanilla is out. With so many divergent styles making themselves of influence, tastes tend to skew ever further from the plain and moderate, and as a consequence there have been any number of bands scurrying to pile into the rapidly shrinking void at the extremes. Quite simply, nothing's shocking. Even with the momentous hurdle that this gentrification of marginality has presented for those wishing to color outside the lines, Beep Beep has managed to release one weird and unique album.

The first surprise is that this is, in fact, a Saddle Creek release. Perhaps I have not been keeping up with the Omaha imprint's catalog as well as I should, because Enchanted Islands is completely devoid of Twenty-first Century Americana or Oberstian over emoting. Instead, it is a challenging smatter of post-punk, jazzy guitar noodling, and synthesizer flourishes. If it wasn't for the unifying factor of the album's high, wispy vocals, I wouldn't blink if told that Enchanted Islands was actually a mix tape comprised of five or six different bands. It's hard to believe that there exists but a single source for the stabbing guitars of "Seppuku," saxophone interlude in "Wooden Nickels," and very nearly smooth adult-contemporary of "Baby Shoes," so unrelated they seem to be. Interestingly, the highlight of Enchanted Islands is the relatively straightforward "Return To Me"; sweetly catchy with soothing complementary vocals, the track is the warm, beating heart of the album, lovely and affecting.

Enchanted Islands probably won't appeal to everyone, and I imagine there will be a few die-hard fans of the label (not long ago a friend of a friend eBayed a relatively small collection of Saddle Creek vinyl and cassettes for several thousand dollars) wondering aloud, "where the fuck is Tim Kasher?" But for the many who no longer accept the overtly ordinary and like to stray a few furlongs from the pack, Beep Beep will not disappoint. I mean, personally, I practically need an auditory slap in the face to be astonished by a band these days, and to Beep Beep's credit, Enchanted Islands managed to keep my attention from start to finish.

Reviewed by Kevin Alfoldy
An aspiring global adventurer who cut his teeth on the sandy beaches and dirty bitches of Southern California, Kevin Alfoldy now spends his non-vacation days in Brooklyn, New York, where he occasionally finds the time to rub the crust out of his eyes long enough to contribute reviews and feature articles for LAS. A longtime staff member, Kevin also captains the tattered, often half-sunk raft of EPmd, our irregular column of EP reviews.


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