Dead Gaze – “Brain Holiday”

The legend, as I understand it, is that a friend of Cole Furlow somehow had access to eleven days of studio time at Sweet Tea in Oxford, Mississippi, a studio with an impressive list of clients including Animal Collective, Elvis Costello, Modest Mouse, and The Walkmen. The culmination of these eleven days is Brain Holiday, […]

Lindsey Whitefield

8
out of 10

Dead Gaze
Brain Holiday
October 22nd, 2013
FatCat Records

The legend, as I understand it, is that a friend of Cole Furlow somehow had access to eleven days of studio time at Sweet Tea in Oxford, Mississippi, a studio with an impressive list of clients including Animal Collective, Elvis Costello, Modest Mouse, and The Walkmen. The culmination of these eleven days is Brain Holiday, the “official” debut album of Furlow’s Dead Gaze.

The tracks that are Brain Holiday are cohesive without sounding alike, and diverse enough to prove Dead Gaze’s range. This is an album I can listen to while driving, cooking, working, trying to fall asleep. It’s an album that will integrate into playlists and mixes.

I’ve seen several references to Weezer in other reviews, while the comparison is apparent in the opening riffs of the first two tracks, “Yuppies Are Flowers” and “Rowdy Jungle”, I would not classify this album as totally Weezer-esque, neither quintessential indie nor alt-pop.

Brain Holiday has a big sound. It truly feels like the music surrounds you, there is a thickness to it you can most certainly feel. The rhythms and melodies of “Stay, Don’t Say”, “Breathing Creatures”, “Possible Embrace”, and title track “Brain Holiday” exhibit a strong attention to detail, interesting flourishes and interludes speaking to the artist’s talent for composition. I appreciate the big-guitar homage to a lo-fi past in “You’ll Carry on Real Nice” and “A Different Way”, sounds that sound like they could have been recorded in a garage, but treated with the same level of care as each of the other tracks on the album.

Maybe I’m getting to old to be sentimental, but the songwriting does very little for me on this album. Lyrically Brain Holiday fluctuates between devil-may-care and ennui, the typical poetry of our generation. I recommend approaching Furlow’s vocals as an instrument in themselves. His voice is pleasantly versatile, suited to the mood of the album. Perhaps it’s just as well, the title Brain Holiday suggests an escape from thoughts, worries, analyses; a surrender to the music.

I don’t think it’s likely or fair to surmise the time at Sweet Tea took Dead Gaze from lo-fi to hi-fi, was the difference between reverb abuse and reverb mastery. It doesn’t really work that way. I like to think this album is the result of a talented artist who had an opportunity to get his hands on some real fancy record-making equipment and just went for it, but ultimately put out the same album he would have in any case, albeit with slicker production quality

– November 10th, 2013 – Lindsey Whitefield