Artist: Crushed Stars
Title: In The Bright Rain
Record Label: Simulacra Records
Dallas-based band Crushed Stars are due to release their third full length album In The Bright Rain this March. Led by multi-instrumentalist Todd Gautreau, their music is quiet indie pop with a relaxed but emotional feel. Since the release of their first album Self Navigation in 2001, Gautreau has experimented with electronic project Sonogram before returning to the quieter indie rock of Crushed Stars for this release.
The album was recorded with Stuart Sikes (White Stripes, Modest Mouse, Cat Power). Guests include drummer Jeff Ryan (St. Vincent, War on Drugs) Howard Draper (formerly of Okkervil River/Shearwater) and Buffi Jacobs (The Polyphonic Spree). Gautreau said about the album; “In the Bright Rain is an attempt to make a more optimistic record, I wanted to remove some of my own personal baggage from the equation and see if could construct more universal pop songs, though I am not sure if I pulled that off, hence the juxtaposition suggested by the title.”
In The Bright Rain is reminiscent of work by The National, Nick Drake and Red House Painters.“Leave Town” is a steady opener, Gautreau’s vocals are husky, whispering and alluring. Gautreau’s vocals are echoey and distant throughout and in “Brighter Now” are supported with backing vocals. The guitar melodies are clearer and more apparent than the dreamy singing in this track. “Copenhagen” opens with two notes which repeat and expand under the opening verse.
Beautiful strings and piano accompany the vocals in “Color Kites”, the strings in particular bring out a melancholy yearning. Gautreau hums and “las” in between verses in this track and in “Pretty Girls Are Everywhere” adding further to the album’s relaxed, slurred feel.“House on the Hill” is a cover of the song by British luminary Epic Soundtracks (aka Kevin Paul Godfrey), a song he didn’t fully complete before his death in 1997. The melody is sad and Gautreau’s voice, strong.
The album ends with “Take Flight”, the longest track at seven minutes, it is a solid conclusion for the album’s chilled out, emotional journey. The piece is dotted with piano notes, surging chords on the guitar and of course, Todd Gautreau’s quietly confident vocals. So in response to his comment on the album, I’m not sure the album shouts optimism, however the emotions portrayed can strike a chord with anyone willing to give it a listen.
Reviewed by Heather Welsh.