Michael Barrett

Couches and Carpet

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The debut solo effort by Michael Barrett was released in March 2001 on Planting Seeds Records. Entitled Couches and Carpet, the CD offered Barrett with an opportunity to record and release songs he'd written as a member of Guppyboy, the Essex Green, and the Sixth Great Lake. The songs are reminiscent of '60s psychedelic pop, folk, and country (with an overriding pop tempo). While Barrett's bands are members of the seminal Elephant 6 recording collective (including Apples in Stereo and Neutral Milk Hotel), his solo work has a serene and mellow feel. This shouldn't surprise listeners, as his band work is calmer and more laid-back when compared to his Elephant 6 contemporaries. The disc starts with the soothing "The Farm," moving on to the toe-tapping effects of "Yesterday and Today," and leading to the melancholy strains of "The Beach Song." On a calm, reflective CD such as this, it's hard to say which point is the pinnacle. On "Four Nicks Up," Barrett raps over minimal instrumentation and static. The crescendo might be reached at the end, with "Roll on Home" serving adequately as the album-closer, with themes of endings being repeated throughout. This 18-song effort was recorded in studios around Brooklyn and pieced together during a three-year period. Piano, guitar, and synthesizer combine to create an almost-orchestral sound on many songs, making it all the more surprising that this is the work of one man, with the occasional assistance of backup vocalists.

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