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Clothes Your I's

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Album Review

Karl Blau is the kind of guy that not just critics, but anyone who chances to hear him, would call a "one-off." His songs are goofy, without being novelties or the kind of eccentricity suggestive of a disturbed mind. The production is basic, but not artily lo-fi or deliberately challenging. The songs are melodic, but not too hummable. And the packaging is resolutely uncommercial. With his impressive high vocal range and childlike sense of whimsy, as well as a bent for incorporating charming, homey instrumental textures from cheap-sounding keyboards, acoustic guitars, and percussion, it's tempting to use the Smiley-Smile-era Beach Boys as one reference point. There's also a fragmented and diverse character to his songs, standing aside from the pack of so many post-punk projects via its warmth and listenability. Blau also continues to get the max out of an apparently limited recording and instrumental budget, resolutely throwing in surprising textural variations: a dirty fuzz guitar here, bossa nova rhythms there, meditative jazzy saxes here. It takes some time to get into, and these are not the sort of lyrics that can be easily fathomed even with repeated listenings (perhaps a lyric sheet would help in this case). As evocative indie pop mood music goes, though, it's recommended, particularly for those who want to be adventurous and remained entertained at the same time.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Working out of the small town of Anacortes in northern Washington state, Karl Blau has released several cassettes, as well as a CD, Shell Collection, on the small Knw-Yr-Own label. Shell Collection, from 1997, is comprised of four-track recordings that are among the more intriguing and versatile sounds to have come out of the lo-fi indie underground. With a vibe that is both down-home and whimsical, Blau grafts parts of winsome folk-rock onto lazy jamming blues, vintage rocksteady reggae, high '70s...
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Clothes Your I's, Karl Blau
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