The Echo Falls

The Echo Falls

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The Bay Area is 375 miles from L.A.'s Laurel Canyon, but the '70s singer/songwriter bug must have migrated northwest, where it infected Alex Mandel. The Oberlin-trained Pixel Films scorer's voice sounds like a less nasal Damon Albarn (Blur) or Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer without the British accents (and the 6/8 time "Watchtower" is quite ELP "Lucky Man"-ish), and there's even a Beatles nod (the way "so incredibly high" is sung is like "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"). But his trio's acoustic folk-pop is purely of that popular, confessional variety that emanated from the mountains behind Sunset Blvd. before real estate values skyrocketed. Whether channeling America doing Crosby, Stills & Nash lite ("Every Second Thought") or After the Goldrush Neil Young (the piano-aided stand-out "Road to Parnassus"), Mandel's not without talent, and this is quite nice.

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