King of All He Surveys

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Dunlavy's way around neo-psychedelic zoned and stoned approaches continues well enough with King of All He Surveys, with main man Scott Grimm keeping an eye and ear out for finding mystery and liquid, flowing songs at both high and low volumes. Dunlavy's general subtlety is actually perhaps its best feature, balancing out the stripped-down spirit of tribal acid folk with plenty of electricity while not always cranking the amps or the pedals. When the band does decide to cut loose -- "Mercury" is a great example, with weird, slowed vocals that Jimi Hendrix would be proud of, as is "Very Little" -- there's still a lot of space in the arrangement, with flanged guitars subservient to clipped riffs. The initial mogadon trudge pace of "Hazy" makes Mountain's "Mississippi Queen" sounds like Motörhead, but if anything's the lead instrument, it's the backward-masked then reversed vocals, breathed out like a cold wind from the Arctic. "Scott Dewey" isn't all that far off in feel, with the extra touch of muffled, barely audible voices in what sounds like a phone conversation kicking everything off. Meanwhile, the easygoing flow of songs like "Unstable," the excellent opener, and the kicky and appropriately entitled "Sassy!" keep things from dourness (as does the great photo of the glowing-eye dog). No less than three separate songs are called "Captain Space" -- all pretty much consist of brief interludes, but they add further to the quiet, reflective side of the band, brief semi-acoustic jams that suit the disc's flow. An odd and fun touch: Calling one song "Big Finish" and then putting it nowhere near the end of the album (shades of Big Black's "Bombastic Intro" in reverse).