Wednesday, May 8, 2013

#EDAS Album Review: Andrew Graham & Swarming Branch, Classic Glass

by Justin (@justasstrazdin)

Label: Tonk – May 8, 2013

Artist-Fair Shopping: Vinyl

Style: The American Dream, That Carnival in Disney's Pinocchio, You Wouldn't Understand

Audience: Matured Midwestern DIY Kids, My Future Wife, Not Enough People on Soundcloud

Better Tracks: That Constant Country Thirst, The Sistine Twist, The Pounce

I want to make a baseball analogy because I recently watched Ken Burns' Baseball like it was a part-time job. Andrew Graham is that career minor leaguer who bats righty and throws lefty, and the scouts love what he gets done in the short-season, but they can't call the kid up. It would not make sense. His latest effort, Classic Glass, contains frantic doses of rambling bedroom rock with horns, keys, country slides, and some carnival vibes filtered through astute writing and a Lou Reed meets Ray Davies meets a $20 mic delivery that goes back to his days in RTFO Bandwagon, when he honed his lo-fi craft with songs like the infectious "Like A Dan Shearer Over Troubled Water."

Four years after RTFO Bandwagon, Graham has two releases with Swarming Branch—the joyful and abrasive Andrew Graham's Good Word, and Classic Glass. Both albums feature a raw, ambitious arrangements and infectious writing that convince me he holds something quite his own, yet just wasn't made for any of these times. I could go on whining about how most talented bedroom rockers are criminally unappreciated and all that, but all the rare and often obscure reissues of the past ten years taught us that some albums take time to catch on, usually 30 to 40 years after the release date. But what about these mavericks of the internet age, who make entire albums on cheap and easily borrowed gear, turn technical limitations into creative strengths, and make whatever the fuck they want?

I think Classic Glass is a worthy case study you can try at home. Purchase the 150 gram vinyl, unwrap it, dent a couple of jacket corners, maybe nibble on them to accelerate wear, place on your shelf, and wait. Someone in the future will flip through your discerning collection, pull it on the basis of its awesome cover art, give it a spin, and start asking you all about it. And you will explain that it was some dude from Columbus, Ohio who should have had way more Soundcloud followers than he did, but the internet age was a cruel one for the bedroom set—with odds favoring wispy buzz acts that Instagram well—while you transfer a digital copy to their thumb drive, or touch Google Fingertips, or whatever.

Verdict: Not Meant for Everyone but It's for You If You Read This Far

Upcoming Shows: Artist's Tumblr

Andrew Graham – Red Light Green Light

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