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After years of hints, the occasional one-off comp appearance, and not much more, which along with the somnolent state of Lovesliescrushing brought many to despair of ever actually hearing anything more, Scott Cortez finally debuted his solo project in full with Crush. As Astrobrite, Cortez's general approach isn't too far off from the music with which he came to attention -- fired-up, often quite massive, and astonishingly creative use and abuse of electric guitar on a four-track tape recorder, placing him up there with the likes of Dave Pearce rather than, say, yet another Lou Barlow wannabe. But this isn't just Bloweyelashwish or Xuvetyn without the female vocals -- Crush in general leans toward a generally more poppy bent, certainly a heavily distorted sort at times, but the feeling is a little less moody and ethereal throughout the album (a notable exception -- the cascading wash of "Comet"). One gets the sense that songs like the tellingly titled "Radiofriendly" and "Peachfuzz" could find their own wider appeal, if it weren't for the way he very intentionally plays with the mixes. His wistful, restful choirboy vocals often get lost beyond sheets of feedback squalls, but the hooks are still there -- it's not quite the Jesus & Mary Chain overdrive approach either, more a sweetness that doesn't mind playing in the mud at all. When he does let the singing stand forth more readily, as the warm and winning "Overdriver" captures perfectly, the result is a treat. Meanwhile, moments like the woozy guitar on "Bottlerocket" and "Blown" have Kevin Shields written all over them, and beautifully so at that. If any more proof were needed that ten years on the likes of Loveless really did have an impact for musicians, Crush fulfills that brief; shoegaze never died -- it just produced other, unexpected results along the way.

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