To Sur w/ Love

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On his third album, Graves singer/songwriter Greg Olin totally reinvents himself. Where the previous albums had been largely solo bedroom pop albums, there is an expansiveness to To Sur w/ Love. That's Sur as in Big Sur, the almost mythical California beach town, and the album is filled with gentle evocations of '60s sunshine pop and '70s California singer/songwriter rock all over the album. Not that things don't get quirky, as is Olin's wont: "Deepspace Team" is anchored by a freak-out free jazz saxophone solo, and "Not Anymore at Night" has a cavernous fuzz bassline that sounds like it was flown in from an entirely different song. Nearly every track here is a gem, though, filled with interesting experimental musical effects and richly evocative lyrics, with tunes that range from achingly pretty to startlingly discordant; in many ways, Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane over the Sea is an entirely appropriate point of comparison. A huge leap forward from the Graves' earlier albums, To Sur w/ Love is one of 2005's most underappreciated indie gems.

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