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Hanglide Thru Yer Window

Desoto Reds

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Album Review

Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alex Sterling's band Desoto Reds continues its quirky journey into neo-prog rock on Hanglide Thru Yer Window. Musically, Sterling most overtly displays the influence of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd and Barrett's abortive solo career; listening to this album, you'd think Sterling's favorite LP was Barrett's The Madcap Laughs. The arrangements have the same thrown-together feel, the run-on melodies the same unstructured progressions, and Sterling's fey tenor recalls Barrett's. The difference may be that Sterling is doing deliberately what the drug-addled and mentally deranged Barrett did instinctively. Barrett isn't the only influence that comes to ear, however. The abrupt arrangement of "Hot Air Balloon" suggests he's been listening to Kurt Weill. (Well, maybe not directly; more likely he heard "Alabama Song" on a Doors album.) "The Gardener" has some of the feel of early Devo with its clanky rhythms. And if, as usual, all roads lead back to the Beatles, you'd have to say that the calliope-like sound of "Tupper in the Fridge" implied Sterling's favorite Fab Four songs were "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" and "She Said She Said." He achieves the sound of 1967 London through honest means, employing such old-tech instruments as a Moog synthesizer, with its dissonant squiggles filling holes in the sound picture here and there. And there are plenty of holes; Sterling favors spare arrangements and simple (if changing) rhythm patterns that give the tracks an unfinished feel. The music tends to overwhelm his undemonstrative singing, which means his lyrics don't get the emphasis they should. He writes entertaining if sophomoric verse full of fantasy; he's as interested in the sounds of words as in their meaning, if not more so. The album's first song, "Allowed Loud," begins, "Fell pell-mell from a predicate suitcase/Ooze willy-nilly in her general direction," and that couplet is a good indication of what's to come. Hanglide Thru Yer Window reveals Desoto Reds as a band that is still more a concept in Alex Sterling's mind than a realized entity, but it has its charms.

Biography

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Bay Area indie rock band Desoto Reds is the brainchild of singer/songwriter Alex Sterling. The group began as a duo in the late '90s before expanding to a quartet, and earned local write-ups for their homemade cassette releases. The Desoto Reds EP was released in 1999, but three years passed before Fogsnob Records released two Desoto Reds albums, Preppy Freakout, Vol. 1 and the disc of "odds and reds" Preppy Freakout,...
Full bio
Hanglide Thru Yer Window, Desoto Reds
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