Elephant Micah

Elephant Micah, Your Dreams Are Feeding Back

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The '90s seemed to have been the decade of lo-fi meets high profile, but once the hype goes, the music remains and, in the right hands, finds sharp new practitioners. Thus Elephant Micah, real name Joe O'Connell, whose third full album (counting the very limited CD-Rom release Untied States of Elephant Micah) is an hour-long meditation in the form. By which is meant: recorded at home, guitar-based, soft wheezing keyboards, reflective and sometimes melancholic lyrics, with singing to match. Part of the appeal after a slew of such releases in past years is contextual, admittedly -- after the rise in popularity of essentially one-man-bands like Dashboard Confessional and Bright Eyes, it's nice to hear someone take things in a more cryptic and somewhat less strident vein. Also, for all the complaints about fetishizing such recording as an end to itself, as opposed to simply a cheap medium, there's no denying both the appeal of murkily beautiful arrangements ("Turned Up the Stardom" and "Flannery's Frizzled Chicken"), and the production to make things even more so. O'Connell himself aims for a gentle variety in turn -- "Rhode Island Reds" and "Immune to Amusement" have fuller arrangements, including drums, that cut through just a touch more strongly, while "A Vocabulary" has a distinctly clear and crisp quality to it. It's also interesting hearing slightly unexpected parallels creep through, most specifically plenty of country slide guitar (but without the alt country atmosphere per se -- the banjo on the slyly titled "Mt. Neil Young" comes close, though). The lazy, drowsy guitar and general pace on "Deliver Us From Broken Glass" calls to mind Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You," one of the album's nicest touches. It's not a perfect album through and through -- some of the songs feel a bit too laid-back and minimal, nice enough sketches that don't quite resolve. But Your Dreams Are Feeding Back is still an enjoyable listen.

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