Dead Gaze

Brain Holiday

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After spending a few years recording in his bedroom, making lo-fi noise pop tracks that brimmed with energy and invention, Dead Gaze's Cole Furlow got the chance of a lifetime. A friend of his offered him almost two weeks of free studio time at Sweet Tea , a multi-million dollar studio with a vintage Neve board. Furlow jumped at the chance and the result, 2013's Brain Holiday, has the huge sound and pristine feel one would expect to come out of such an experience, but also retains enough of Dead Gaze's weird pop smarts to keep it from sounding like just another expensive, run-of-the-mill rock album. At times, it sounds like a Weezer album made by even bigger dorks than Rivers Cuomo, or a Pixies album that isn't worried about being arty. Or a Nirvana record made by a happy-go-lucky stoner. Tracks like "Yuppie Holiday," "Rowdy Jungle," or "A Different Way" display a love and knowledge of popular '90s alternative rock that's surprisingly deep for someone who probably wasn't much more than a toddler when those bands were active. He plays these tracks with a youthful abandon that jolts them into life and keeps them from being simply nostalgic. A few, like the sparkling noise pop of the title track and the strutting rocker "Running on the Moon," have hooks huge enough, and sound interesting enough, to put them right on a level with the groups Furlow so loves. Still, as much fun as the the album is when Furlow channels his heroes, where Brain Holiday really gets interesting is when he tries out some things that are less in thrall to the noise rock of the '90s and closer to the chamber pop sound that bubbled underneath the mainstream during the same time period ("Breathing Creatures"), bouncy synth pop ("Possible Embrace"), or swooning dream pop ("Say, Don't Say"). These songs serve as breathers between the rocked-out jams that surround them, and are also a nice showcase for Furlow's skill as a songwriter and producer who can do more than just make great alt rock jams. Brain Holiday may not be reinventing anything, and Furlow could stand to take a break from his '90s worship, but the album does sound amazing and anyone who likes their guitars loud and melodies strong will find Brain Holiday something well worth digging into.

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