The Flower Machine

Chalk Dust Dream of the Tea Cozy Mitten Company

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The Flower Machine follow in the hazy footsteps of the new breed of California psych-country bands like the Tyde, Beachwood Sparks, All Night Radio, and the Elephant 6 neo-psych groups like Olivia Tremor Control and Neutral Milk Hotel. Singer and main songwriter Peter Quinell was in the Stereolab-inspired Majestic, so a little bit of that band's aesthetic creeps in too. They also seem to be big fans of the pastoral sound of the Clientele, for "I Am the Coelacanth" is a dead ringer. In fact, on first listen to the band's debut, Chalk Dust Dream of the Tea Cozy Mitten Company, you'll be spending so much time playing spot the reference that the melodies and laid-back charm of the record will likely slip right past. If that does happen, make sure you give it another chance because the sweet "It's So Nice," the soaring "L.A. in the Rain," and the drifting "British Rail" are really strong songs that show the band to be almost in the same league as their influences. You'll also like Quinnell's inviting wisp of a voice and the simple but not boring arrangements, some that call up memories of the Rain Parade ("In the Glow"), some that almost sound like they could have been recorded sometime during the Stone Roses' lost years ("How to Fly an Aeroplane"). The only thing that might bug you is the occasional lyrical misstep in the direction of whimsy. Ah, but everyone has faults, don't they? Chalk the record up as a sterling debut with loads of promise for the future.

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