Let Your Mind Wander
Many would argue that there is nothing new that could be done in music. Mississippi songwriter Cole Furlow clearly agrees, but that doesn’t stop him from accomplishing something different. Recording as Dead Gaze, Furlow combines retro tones and classic structures with modern touches and contemporary melodies. His first album, Dead Gaze, compiled 7-inch EPs and cassettes (yes, cassettes), made how and when they were due to budget restraints. His latest, Brain Holiday, was recorded over eleven days in the Sweet Tea studio in Oxford, Mississippi, and the concentration of effort along with access to vintage equipment pays off in a remarkable release.
First song, “Yuppies Are Flowers,” begins with a “Jessie’s Girl”-like riff, but before it gets too corny, a tasteful barrage of guitars and keyboards kicks in, supporting Furlow’s Wayne Coyne-lite vocals. “Rowdy Jungle” follows this formula, with a sparse intro followed by full and fat accompaniment. Comparisons to Pinkerton-era Weezer could be made, but then “Stay, Don’t Stay” breaks this pattern and veers in a Bon Iver direction, with acoustic guitars and string-like synthesizers taking control of slightly off-beat electronic percussion.
“You’ll Carry on Real Nice” is a throwback to early ’90s noise pop, and here Furlow lets his punk flag fly, incorporating a little Billie Joe Armstrong into his inflection. “A Different Way” is an ear-splitting stomper, with a riff like AC/DC on a shoestring budget. Following that is “Breathing Creatures,” which has a decidedly jazz feel, which combined with the other Dead Gaze components winds up sounding almost Cocteau-Twins-ish. “Possible Embrace” begins with a riff not unlike what a 17-year-old would come up with in his bedroom with a cheap Best Buy guitar, but again the entire composition brings the song to a higher level.
You’ll notice that the comparisons above tend to be somewhat dated; that is deliberate. On Brain Holiday, it’s as if Furlow’s most important knobs on his amp are marked “Day,” “Month” and “Year.” He recalls these tones with respect and mastery, and enhances them with rich layering. Mostly, each song is catchy and compelling enough to make you want to go on to the next one, revealing that Cole Furlow as Dead Gaze has quite a future, especially as he continues to pay tribute to the past.