Way too often, music fans and writers confuse hazy for lazy, when it comes to describing the sonic texture of a record. An album can be sleepy without being stagnant, and indeed, a record can produce an atmospheric haze without coming across as lazy. In fact, properly pulling off such a feat requires a focus and a specific vision that is anything but loose and cavalier.
Todd Gatreau’s project, Crushed Stars, is a great example of the above equation. The Smiths-meets-Mark Kozelek vibe of his latest album, Convalescing in Braille, further establishes the sonic signature that has been honed over the course of several albums since the group’s inception in 2005. Crushed Stars have been successful in getting the word out, over the past few years. Along with appearances at the all-encompassing SXSW and CMJ festivals, many radio stations have added songs from their catalog to their playlists. Recently, their genius cover of the campy 1980′s classic, “99 Red Balloons,” made noise on airwaves outside of North Texas.
Having worked with an impressive group of producers including Stuart Sikes (White Stripes, Cat Power) and North Texas native John Congleton (Walkmen, St. Vincent, Sarah Jaffe), calling Crushed Stars a band might be a bit of a stretch, given that for this latest album, Gautreau played all of the instruments himself, with drums bing the lone exception. In this instance, it seems as the dedicated multi-tasking paid off, as the album flows evenly and effortlessly. Even with numbers like “Technicolor” and “Spark” boasting a bit more percussive pounding and quickened pace than many of the other softer tunes, the collection’s moody cohesion is never disturbed.
While we’re always a bit reluctant to quote anything from Pitchfork, we’d be lying if we said that they didn’t sum up our general feelings as it pertains to the work of Gautreau when they reported that Crushed Stars music makes “you wish it were night all day long.”
Kelly Dearmore is a freelance writer, mean pot of chili maker and opinionated music lover. To read more about what Kelly is listening to, visit him here on The Squawker weekly or daily on his personal music blog, The Gobblers Knob