The Glands: The Glands
WHENEVER I HEAR Seventies radio songs like "Tusk," I can honestly taste dust in my mouth. Dust from a T-ball field. I'm riding home in the back of a moss-colored Coronado, looking out the window, wiping my face with my cap. It's a feeling Ross Shapiro and his Athens, Georgia, band the Glands know something about. The 14 songs on The Glands venture unconsciously into that fabled slipstream between the viaducts of our dreams. But it's only with the most commiserative respect that the band shakes our collective Wellesian snow globe. In true home-studio tradition, they apply their warm guitar shimmer, lap-steel drowse, hooty Farfisa, and moody cello with childlike verve to Shapiro's Super-8 imagism. And it's this indie-rock-meets-dusty-AM reverie that makes their exuberantly lonely album this summer's perfect post-dockdive, stare-at-the-sky artifact.
Although breathing the same Athenian vapors that have buzzed bands from Pylon to Olivia Tremor Control, the Glands seem lollingly earnest, drawlingly sly, and idyllically out of step. They haven't released a record since Bar/None's 1996 well-received Double Thriller (named for a prized bit of recording equipment rumored to have been used by Michael Jackson), and it sounds like they've spent the interim sifting through a toy box full of Apples, Beatles, Cars, and Meat Puppets. When the guitars aren't dry, the lyrics are, and vice versa. Shapiro's high-tenor tremble kicks things off with a half-meant lament in "Livin' Was Easy," a slide-guitar, crawl-back anthem that wonders, "Why did I go?/I had it so eeea-zy/I had a room of my own/I had the afternoon sun."
A wistfulness pervades these tracks, from the buoyant "Swim," a two-stepper that playfully dunks ELO in the shallow end, to "I Can See My House From Here" a slacker-soul track that boogie-boards over the piano riff from the Four Seasons' "December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)." At its most ethereal, The Glands is a sonic scrapbook for fans of local mid-Nineties mesmerists like Lee Family Curse and Milk. At its most melodic, the album's Cheap Trick-ery adds some sandlot grit to our Minty Fresh cocktail. Digging holes to China and soaring like a free-cut kite through forgotten airwaves, the Glands have scrawled a quick and strange Crayola map of a lost landscape. One of the year's best.
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