The American Dollar
Awake In The City


3.0
good

Review

by Deviant STAFF
March 27th, 2012 | 47 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Immediately beautiful but incredibly myopic, The American Dollar's latest offers little in the way of anything beyond its impeccably polished facade

It’s of no great surprise to find, while reading online literature on ambient-post rock duo The American Dollar, said author inextricably tying the group, no matter how tentatively, to some landmark of regression, a certain pivotal moment that, for better or for worse, helped shape and define that writer into the person that they are today. The beauty of all this, and the simplicity with which this task is accomplished, is that the tandem efforts of Rich Cupolo and John Emanuele are designed with the very real, and richly powerful idea of memory, of that constant need for us to latch onto our past. Like a dusty photograph hidden away in a shabby cardboard box only to be pulled out of cold storage and wiped clean do these tracks act as a kind of catalyst for remembrance, helping to blow away the thick veil of time. They make soundtracks for mental images etched into our very souls, but more than just acting as a reminder do they help to define those cherished moments, those beloved little treasures that we’ve nurtured and cared enough about to hold on to.

It’s a commendation and testament to the prowess of the duo how effortlessly they’re able to command our very thoughts without uttering a single word, instead relying on the majesty that only they seem to be able to conjure, that fragile and impressionistic beauty that they bestow upon every track, every line of their music. At times it’s as subtle and diaphanous as a piece of dust caught in the glow of warm light, other times as explosive and confrontational as the disappearance of said light, the abrupt and swift departure of that comforting glow. Awake In The City, is by and large, nothing more than the casual extension of all that we’ve come to know and expect from these modern day dream catchers; the romantic twinkling of piano keys, the gentle but insistent swell of synthesizers, the organic turbulence of nature versus nurture. Sadly it’s that foresight in expectation that ultimately derails the duo’s latest effort though; while the grazing of familiar ground is no less beautiful and ineffectual, its impact is sadly lessened by its lack of adventurous spirit. Even by The American Dollar’s standards is it a rather tame effort, clumsily stepping in its own footprints instead of blazing its own unique trail through the teeming restless city that it seems to revolt against.

Awake In The City, while retaining a certain amount of merit, is nothing that we haven’t heard pulled off more efficiently by this duo in the past; the slow almost lulling death-march of ‘Heavy Eyes Ignite’, the subtle grandiose of ‘First Day’ with its shimmering rays of sun-drenched synths. The digitized percussion of ‘Crossing Asia’ that seeks to create a bridge between the human heart and the hard drive, the emotional race of ‘Urbana’, or the gloomy, reluctant finale of ‘Oracle’, that plays out like every other emotional farewell that’s come before it. Perhaps it’s merely a case of familiarity, of being accustomed to the glorious unknown that The American Dollar seems intent on opening inside of us like a fountain of childlike joy, but outside of the immediate senses, there’s a lot here that simply ends up falling on deaf ears. Everything is simply far too obvious, too immediate; conversely, it’s that same reluctance for mystery and subtlety that bogged down their previous LP Atlas. What used to be a glimpse, a window into a world slightly beyond what the imagination could create for itself is now a deliberate attempt to tug on the heart strings, to rouse distinct and decisive images, rather than our own personal interpretations. It’s clear that the vehicle certainly hasn’t broken down, but it certainly isn’t travelling in any new direction this time.



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user ratings (51)
Chart.
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2012


31215 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

http://theamericandollar.bandcamp.com/album/awake-in-the-city

Digging: LV and Joshua Idehen - Islands

balcaen
March 26th 2012


3183 Comments


aw, really? i kind of dig this. probably a 3.5 for me.

damn, this is a good review though. especially the last part of the first paragraph.

you're generally pretty right though. these guys are one of the most vapid post-rock acts around.
pleasant though.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
March 26th 2012


10594 Comments


Have yet to decide if this is worth my time...hmmm

Digging: Grouper - Ruins

RosaParks
March 26th 2012


14912 Comments


Same here, Xeno. Almost downloaded this last night buuuut
this kind of "boring" music usually goes well with me so I probably should get it

balcaen
March 26th 2012


3183 Comments


it's honestly good background music for studying, cleaning, cooking, etc. kind of a break from music that is more difficult to digest.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
March 26th 2012


10594 Comments


Hmmm, bal. one of those activities doesn't really fit your gender

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2012


31215 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I like how the front page cuts the summary off at "offers little in the way of anything"

And yeah Bal, we're pretty much in the same boat with this just you happen to dig it that tiny bit more. It's the perfect kinda stuff for the background, white noise while you work etc. The problem is there's just no substance, no meat on the bones

OnlyAnchors
March 26th 2012


867 Comments


^fucking lol

OnlyAnchors
March 26th 2012


867 Comments


the lol was a xeno

Josh D.
March 26th 2012


13968 Comments


I like Atlas. Had no idea there was anything in the works. I will listen soon.

bakkermaarten007
March 27th 2012


3542 Comments


Someone on youtube said A Bunny's Caravan sounded like this.
He must've been new to post-rock.
I like that you rec Lights Out Asia.

minty901
March 27th 2012


2018 Comments


so like every other american dollar album then? american dollar's music is complete perfection, it's really pretty and atmospheric, it's incredible, but once you've heard one or two songs, you've heard it all. i've never bothered to listen through a whole album, i just pick and choose (fade in out, signalling through the flames, dea), and thats enough for me. bit of a shame really

minty901
March 27th 2012


2018 Comments


that seems a little misplaced

ThroneOfAgony
March 27th 2012


3485 Comments


I have some of their stuff on my itunes...I guess I should listen to it

TheGardener
March 27th 2012


150 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Normally I agree with your reviews Deviant, but I vehemently disagree with you on this one. Although it's nice to see this band getting some attention.

Maniac!
March 27th 2012


26250 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

pretty much agree with you for once, devy.

Funeralopolis
March 27th 2012


11408 Comments


Damn deviant you are easily one of the best writers on the site.

Digging: Black Milk - No Poison No Paradise

alachlahol
March 27th 2012


7489 Comments


a truly diaphanous affair

captaincrunch11
March 27th 2012


1214 Comments


This looks interesting. Recs have me interested.

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
March 27th 2012


2714 Comments


Holy mother of opening sentences, Batman.

You've really gone all out on the commas with this one. It reads a bit like an old, spluttering engine that you have to keep restarting before it gets going.



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