Built Like Alaska


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Upon listening to Built Like Alaska's debut Hopalong, it will surprise absolutely no one to learn that this band from California's Central Valley are friends, neighbors, and protégées of Grandaddy, who originally released this album on their own Sweat of the Alps label in 2002. Though Built Like Alaska avoid the trap of sounding too much like Grandaddy, this album's laid-back spaciness and dreamy acoustic psychedelia are very much in the same style, alongside acts like Earlimart, Sparklehorse, and late-era Mercury Rev. There's also a certain surprising similarity to the High Llamas' brand of perfectly orchestrated semi-electronic sunshine pop in spots, notably on the swirling opener "Thinkfast." Elsewhere, the guitar noise theatrics of "Kinky Todd" raises fond memories of early Sonic Youth and the processed vocals and distorted guitars of "Burnin' Mine" vaguely recall mid-period Flaming Lips. But for the most part, the five-piece headed by singer/guitarist Neil Jackson (whose appealingly offhand vocals are one of the album's most instantly enjoyable features) manage to rise above their similarities to better known groups working the same general style through quirky side trips like the needling electronica of the excellently titled "Fulcrum Prism Blues" and the effortless grace of the band's consistently interesting and perfectly realized arrangements. When Built Like Alaska signed to the Future Farmer label for their second album, 2005's Autumnland, the label also reissued Hopalong.

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