The Horns Of Happiness

A Sea As a Shore

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Aaron Deer is a member of both the Impossible Shapes, an Apples in Stereo-like psych-pop band, and John Wilkes Booze, a tongue-in-cheek soul revival group, besides being the leader of the Horns of Happiness. Actually, just to be clear, all three bands are basically the same four guys (plus a couple extras in JWB and a few guest musicians in the Impossible Shapes), with the difference being who's singing and writing the songs. It's basically a much more geographically compact version of the Elephant 6 scene, and if that's the case, then the Horns of Happiness are the equivalent of Jeff Mangum's Neutral Milk Hotel. A Sea As a Shore is more homemade-sounding and D.I.Y. than the Impossible Shapes' increasingly sophisticated chamber pop; songs like "Asleep in the Already Known" are covered in layers of guitar fuzz and the straightforward, lightly psychedelic indie pop "Autumn Breathes East" flows into the quirkier sonic realms of the banjo-led instrumental "Put Reins on My Mind" with surprising ease and offhand charm. More of a scrapbook of interesting musical ideas -- some of which are little more than undeveloped sketches -- than a unified, cohesive musical statement, A Sea As a Shore is fairly uneven. However, the best songs, like the hypnotic rise and fall of "Watch Me Laugh Again" and the playful, Olivia Tremor Control-like "Wonders," are as good as anything the Impossible Shapes have done.

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