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Deerhunter Microcastle Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

This is seriously frazzled Americana in the best sense.

Jon Lusk 2008

Fronted by openly gay and occasionally cross-dressing singer Bradford Cox, the five-piece Deerhunter have earned themselves a formidable reputation for intense live performances in their native Atlanta. They debuted in 2005 with the provocatively titled Turn It Up, Faggot, and this third album (the first released on the UK's 4AD label) comes with a wonderfully addled bonus disc called Weird Era Continued.

Their sound has been called "ambient punk" and although elements of both are present, the tag doesn't really do them justice. Deerhunter appear to have hoovered up influences as diverse as 'shoegazing', 'krautrock', 'post-rock', 'noise rock', psychedelia and pop primitivism. They can’t seem to decide whether to chill out or wig out and end up doing both, sometimes simultaneously. This is seriously frazzled Americana in the best sense.

Microcastle has more fully formed songs and vocals, although Cox's narcotic mumble is generally half buried under layers of reverb, feedback and other guitar noise as well as tape loops and electronica. Just don't look for information about who's doing what in the minimal sleeve notes, and forget about analysing the lyrics, since Cox seems firmly of the words-as-musical-tools school of song writing. Praise Be!

The relatively gentle Agoraphobia (one of two tracks featuring guitarist Lockett Pundt on vocals) could almost be an early Meat Puppets out-take, while Never Stops makes scarifying feedback a thing of beauty à la The Jesus And Mary Chain, with the first of several prettily melodic 'ahhhhh' choruses. The title track goes through a long, languid intro before morphing into a pounding rocker, and there are several spacey, reflective interludes before the metronomic Stereolab-ish groove of Nothing Ever Happened. Twighlight at Carbon Lake is a twisted, atmospheric closer.

As the title suggests, things get stranger on Weird Era Continued. Highlights include Operation, with its intriguing tempo changes and cryptically disturbing half-heard lyrics, Vox Celeste, which recalls the muffled lo-fi luminosity of The Clean, and the epic, trancey Calvary Scars 11/Aux.Out. Opening and closing with a kind of mushroom-dazed pastoralism, it’s a hypnotically pulsing Krautrock treat dipped in sonic glitter.

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