Doug Tuttle - Doug Tuttle
Rising from the ashes of recently-disbanded psychniks MMOSS, Doug Tuttle - the guitarist - has wasted no time in striking out alone for a solo project, not particularly dissimilar to his former group. The New Hampshire native summons the essence of '60s rock, in its many guises, for his new endeavour, hurtling through psychedelia, prog and straight-up classic sounds. With his scraggly mane, you'd be forgiven for drawing comparisons between Tuttle and Kurt Vile - they both spout related lo-fi guitars, fuzzy drawls and nostalgic pop through hazy veils, preferring a dusty blur to pinpoint accuracy. Where Vile's tunes shlumpily careen in a slackerdaisical direction, Tuttle's got more burdensome anxieties, and is more akin to the acid fiends of the decade beckoning paranoia. There's a menace in the smoke, even if it's not a completely new one.
The lead single, and also the first material we heard from Tuttle on this one-man voyage, is 'Turn This Love'. As a six-minute escapade brimming with wildly impressive axe flailings, which conjure visions of the legends of the instrument like Eric Clapton and others that we could all debate about until the cows come home, make dinner, enjoy the new Sherlock and go to bed. Regardless, it's a great track. Subtly funky, if that's at all possible. Mostly, we see Tuttle going hell for leather on his weapon of choice, noodling like a smug giant one moment and cavorting with succubi the next; the track exists partly as an overture to Tuttle's solo world, and partly as an retro exploration on his guitar.
'Better Days (The Wool's Grown Lighter)' opens with an acoustic riff and rattling snares chillingly reminiscent of Franz Ferdinand's 'Walk Away'. That link soon dissolves though, and Tuttle spins a ditty with gloomy boot-glaring (progenitor to shoegaze) licks doused in reverb, thundering Fleetwood Mac basslines and sunset-scowl vox. Swooning ballad 'I Will Leave' is a tad '50s rock'n'roll prom anthem, 'Sewn Day' slips into a pit of Jagwar Ma-esque psych (it's full of tie-dye shirts and peyote), and although 'Lasting Away' begins with the promise of glitch-rock, it succumbs to the dowdy allure of Procul Harum and/or Cream (though there are the aural ghosts of acts like Doldrums or HEALTH lurking just behind the scenes).
It's totes bogus, but unfortunately there's not much available on the record though that could be described as 'original'. Like Foxygen last year, Tuttle's found an era/style of music that he clearly adores, and is recycling the reinventions of yesteryear for a new audience. He's a fantastic musician, obviously, and his guitar playing is among the upper echelons of modern six-stringers, but the backdrops all too often reek of vintage musk. The problem with that is while his LP is very pleasant, and many ears will be fond admirers, the originals, experiencing firsthand the kinds of societal and cultural shifts that made the music possible to start with, still do it better. It feels more like an homage anthology than a truly great reinvention away from MMOSS.
Lots of Tuttle's record is purdy enough. You can gaze upon it contentedly, you can appreciate the gloss and throwbacks. You can hear the strands of elderly genres tottering along. You can brush its hair, undress it every - wait, what? The record's very nice, but swimming alongside adequacy rather than soaring for the top isn't a wonderful career move. With a dollop of bite and ingenuity, Tuttle could transform himself from a '60s rock LARP-er to a bona fide star with ease. His chops are flagrant. Tame Impala, Pond, Jagwar Ma and scores of others have proved that psych music needn't be archaic. If Tuttle can do that too, he's got the potential to become a vital figure indeed.
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