Friends of Dean Martinez


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With the exception of steel guitarist Bill Elm, the personnel on Atardecer were entirely different from the lineup that contributed to The Shadow of Your Smile in 1995. Nevertheless, there was still a lot of continuity with the sleepy desert exotica for which Friends of Dean Martinez are known. The band, often associated with the fringes of the lounge revival, drifted further from that orbit on this set. There are moody electronics (not electronica) from time to time, and songs like "Ethchlorvynol" prove that you don't have to wait for fast-tempoed tunes to unveil scorching distorted guitar. That seems like an obvious point, but it's not a strategy that's utilized as often as it should be, and the group was clever enough to both think of it and do it well. At other points the ambience is gentler, and more in line with the tuneful, and not quite kitschy, hybrid of country, late-'50s and early-'60s pop, and border music that characterized their other efforts. This is postmodern instrumental rock music that is both entertaining and intelligent, not to mention more melodic than most of its competition. It's also a good illustration of different ways to conjure imaginative reverbed and acoustic guitar lines, though occasionally the guitar takes a back seat to satisfying dabs of organ and bossa nova percussion (particularly on the closing "Coppertone").

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