We asked Strand of Oaks' Tim Showalter to review Shrink Dust by Chad VanGaalen. This is what he thought...


So I'm going to review the newest Chad VanGaalen record, Shrink Dust. I've never heard his music so I figured I would run song for song and write down in real time my impressions of the record. My intention is not to do any disservice rather base this review on pure feeling. I'm also horrible at grammar and all that other shit, so please forgive and try and look past it all.

'Cut off my Hands': Beautifully recorded guitar, introduced into a very familiar voice. There is always this moment of anticipation of what the voice is going to sound like. He reminds me of John Vanderslice and maybe even the super underrated Spencer Kingman. The song blossoms into some beautiful atmospheres. The lyrics remind of what a really bad Wednesday feels like for me. Pills, drifting, oceans, longing... I love when love and graphic violence are used in to relate the same feeling.

Overall impressions: Loved the guitar, voice, and lyrics.

'Where are You?': Soft Radiohead vibe, distant slightly overdriven vocals. "Where are you" is screamed wonderfully. A beautiful rise to the churning song. The production makes the song feel like it's distant from the listener, which makes me want to reach out for the song and voice; I love this struggle. Found myself turning up my stereo towards the end of the song wanting to get closer into his world.

Overall impressions: Two songs in I wish I was on drugs right now. Listening to it in the morning with a slight hangover might be painting a very different picture than late at night. This is the kind of song that could vamp for a few more minutes and I would've been totally down for the journey.

'Frozen Paradise': Okay, I'm getting into this shit now. 'Frozen Paradise' falls into the perfect Syd Barret, Flaming Lips ultra bliss zone. My kind of zone. Very solid bass line too. Why don't more people talk about the importance of bass playing and rhythm sections? It's not the synth blips and Leslie guitars that make the psychedelic angels sing, it's the bass playing off the drums. Goddamn these songs are too short though. I want more. This song introduces so many beautiful melodies and movements that seem to vanish way to quickly. Just flashes of light.

Overall Impressions: "Come on Come, lets get high on other peoples dreams"…AMEN Chad.

'Lila': Just a beautiful melody. Oh fuck, four tracks in and we are finally treated to the real shroom field blossom of the multi-voiced 'Lila' chorus. This song sounds like if Alex Chilton would've sung a song on Sea Change. I'm awestruck.

Overall Impressions: I wanna know what Lila did so well to inspire that chorus. Mr. Vangaalen, I've officially bought the ticket, please take me deeper.

'Weighed Sin': I'm beginning to realize how much colour Chad has to his voice. His range seems so comfortable. Reaching for the heart vibrations with some of the higher notes. I think I'm stoned now. There is a growing intensity to this record. It;s unsettling how it's sneaking up on me.

Overall Impressions: I really don't want to write this review anymore. I just want to listen on a sunny rock somewhere. But I will continue on.

'Monster/Evil/Leaning on Bells': Just realized the sun was out so I took my tea outside for these three songs. Felt GREAT!

Overall Impressions: It just hit me. I haven't felt this way about a record since Sparklehorse. I missed that feeling.

'All Will Combine': Back on my computer. Don't mean to keep going back to this but again bands take note… rhythm sections are so important. This song moves so well. Also why don't more songwriters write vibe oriented songs with distinct parts. I sure as shit don't do it enough. Chad is reaching some Kinks level arrangements here. Effortless melodies.

Overall Impressions: WHY DID YOU STOP AT THREE MINUTES DUDE! The last thirty seconds of the song teased at some kind of ultimate climax jam. If you need a guitar player just call me. I'm down.

'Weird Love': First off great title. Actually all these titles are great. This song starts like 'Tomorrow Never Knows' for 2014. Whoever recorded this, my congrats. Beautiful, tasteful tone. "The best it gets, is when life starts screaming." Great line. Sorry I'm not writing more about the lyrics.

Overall Impressions: Back to Sparklehorse again. This record does something similarly genius. Chad seems to build these immense worlds in the length of a punk song. ou get startled when the song ends. It's like someone turning on the lights at a make out party. You're not ready for it to end.

'Hangman's Son': Thank you for making me not hate the pedal steel. Such an easy instrument to go wrong with. It's either gotta be played weird or like a total pro. This arrangement does both. I'll even forgive you for the harmonica, sort of. I'm not writing anything else until he drops a chorus… fingers crossed. Damn never happened. That's okay.

Overall Impressions: I just checked the track order and forgot that we're almost done. Why are you leaving us so soon. I'm just getting started.

'Cosmic Destroyer': Record is paused. I have a feeling this closer is going to pay off. You better pay off with a title like 'Cosmic Destroyer'. Okay pushing play now. Take us home Chad. Ladies and Gentleman we are FUCKING FLOATING IN SPACE. Damn the beautiful bliss rainbow is glowing so bright on this song. And we're done.

Overall Impressions: "When the world in your head, is the world where you live" couldn't say it any better myself Chad.


Final Thoughts

My apologies for any lack of real writing. But I am so thankful for getting to hear this record. When you can listen to music you're whole life and still be awestruck by something new, now that is magic. I am a new fan. Buy this record on vinyl and lose yourself to it. It's a beautiful piece of art. Thank you!