Review Summary: Magic Lanterns guitarist makes another strong cause for his emerging solo-career with the sun-soaked psychedelic drones of Beach Head.
On his second LP, Magic Lanterns guitarist Cameron Stallone makes another strong case for his emerging solo career
Beach Head, released by Not Not Fun at the end of last year, induces a wave of sedation feigned by the tanned bodies in Corona commercials and only truly experienced by those over sixty. Riding on the crest of the recent tropical trend in tape-music, Sun Araw's crunchy garage-rock filtering does him well in escaping the elephant graveyard of music that is home to many of his peers.
Creeping out the gate with, "Thoughts Are Bells," a steady-builder that gathers a haze of clustered chimes, churning washes of sun-damaged synths, and sampled rain forest atmospherics to set the mood for some Planet Earth-worthy natural phenomena. Like his current tour partners Pocahaunted, Sun Araw has a penchant for extracting huge sound from a modest palette.
The albums centerpiece, "Horse Steppin," is the closest thing the drone culture has to an anthem, or the musical equivalent of an anxious Fennesz trying to coax a very hung over Ariel Pink out of bed. Sun Araw couples patient island drumming with a scorched organ riff. It's dense while remaining buoyant, with trembling guitar work-outs filling every corner of the space.
Stallone evokes the shamanic lilt of fellow psych-enthusiasts Brightblack Morning Light on "Beams," carefully sliding a staunch blues lick under layers of high-end grandiosity. Afterwards, Beach Head begins its retreat back into infinity, temporarily dropping the rhythm section in favor of coarsely-textured vocal warmups. It swirls and wanders until a blushed acoustic strum finally grabs hold and shapes it into a proper conclusion.
Beach Head is the perfect cure for those quiet pangs of winter parking bans and icy sidewalks, not to mention one of the best releases of 08.