The Scribbled Out Man

All Different

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AllMusic Review by

Occasionally an album will fall from the ether and tear apart any cynical notion that truly innovative music is no longer created with the same finesse and accessibility as albums that have had years to prove their worth. The root of this cynicism surely is twofold: first, because the major labels that hold the reins of the popular market are generally adverse to taking risks, instead seeking artists who follow a very narrow, precut path; and second, because it has become so inexpensive to record and distribute an album that the independent market has become inundated with music, most of which is below the standards of the listening public willing to dig around below the radar. Of course, there is an upside to the latter -- interesting artists who might never have found an outlet for their material can release their goods to the public, and even though these releases may swim amidst a plethora of substandard material out there, they at least see the light of day. With their debut release, All Different, the Scribbled Out Man from Toronto, Ontario, represent the upside of the dense indie market. The album's title is a proud reference to the hand-assembled packaging that makes each unit unique; each CD has artwork pieced together from various random objects pasted to the sleeve. A review could be written about the diligence of this feat alone, but great packaging never saved a boring record, and it is with this in mind that one can easily say that the work put into presentation here is merely an extension of the passionate meticulousness and high standards the Scribbled Out Man clearly have for their project. The band's upfront approach on All Different explores experimental editing and lightning-fast changes similar to Of Montreal, but where Of Montreal sometimes sound as if their changes were never fully thought out, the Scribbled Out Man make every progression count, as if each short section is a miniature song in itself. Some beautiful and intricate arrangements, from various keyboards to strings and horns, force their way out here and there, but the meat of the music is a rock trio. There are also instances of the Flaming Lips, XTC, and Elvis Costello that occasionally pop from the nooks and crannies, but really, the Scribbled Out Man have built an overall context very much extended beyond their influences. The lovely backing vocals that wash over the majority of the tracks and the alternately smooth and grainy guitars further forge All Different into an atmospheric, dynamic, iridescent, and confident indie pop/rock saga by a group apparently unwilling to settle for anything but the utmost creativity. Hooray for the Scribbled Out Man.

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