AM & Shawn Lee / AM / Shawn Lee

Celestial Electric

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A collaboration between multi-instrumentalist/producer Shawn Lee and singer/songwriter AM, 2011's Celestial Electric is a cornucopia of laid-back, psychedelic-tinged, '60s and '70s-inspired hippie funk, soft pop, and rock. On their own, both Lee and AM have revealed an aesthetic trend toward such chilled-out vintage sounds as Brazilian tropicalia, soft rock, sunshine pop, and various dance grooves from soul to disco. For longtime fans, Celestial Electric is about as good as one could have hoped for the coming together of two like-minded musicians. In that sense, the mix of hippy-dippy melodicism and hot beats brings to mind similarly inclined works by such contemporary artists as Beck and Bing Ji Ling, while also clearly inspired by such classic artists as Curt Boettcher, Free Design, and Paul Williams. Thus, leadoff track "City Boy" sounds like a long-lost David Gates (Bread) solo cut, while more electronic soul tracks like "Lonely Life" and "Dark into Light" sound not unlike Stereolab. If the duo's slavish, slightly more updated club-oriented cover of Ozark Mountain Daredevils' 1974 hit "Jackie Blue" is a bit too obvious, it also sounds just about perfect on this funky and melodic album.

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