Monday, January 24, 2011
CD of the Day, 1/24/11: Scott Gagner-Rhapsody in Blonde
San Franciscan Scott Gagner is back, and if the name doesn't ring a bell it might be because he's known to readers of this page as Cartographer, who released an excellent EP right about three years ago. With other acts using the Cartographer moniker, Gagner decide to go with his own name on the full-length and it's a disc anyone would be proud to put their name on. With more room to breathe, Gagner expands his sound on Rhapsody in Blonde to encompass psychedelia, folk/rock and Americana in addition to power pop.
However, it's power pop that grabs you out of the gate here with "I Hate to Say", an effervescent number that adds a bit of that famous Motown bassline into the mix. The quality jangle-pop of "Speak & Spell" follows, and "Laura No. 1" recalls prime Marshall Crenshaw. Elsewhere, "Ride" and "Take Two" are fine rockers with a 70s sheen.
As alluded to, Gagner isn't afraid to change gears. The spare "Right Before My Eyes" is a gorgeous acoustic number, and "Love You More" is almost in Roy Orbison territory with its pedal steel and emotional falsetto chorus. "Houdini" manages the trick of bringing the Pernice Brothers to mind, and "Laura No. 2" is haunting dream-pop. "Golden Mean" is 7 minutes of psychedelia that serves well as an album closer, but Gagner decides to add a coda, a hushed acoustic cover of Guns'n'Roses' "Sweet Child O'Mine" that shows Axl Rose for the folkie he may be at heart.
Rhapsody in Blonde is the work of a real talent and although it's extremely early, Gagner is the leader in the clubhouse for top album of 2011.
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