Label: Care In The Community Release date: 25/07/10 Link: Myspace Buy: Amazon Wonder Wheel I is the first album from L.A. native Paul A. Rosales (who incidentally, if not a little confusingly, fronts the band Wonder Wheel). With close connections to the likes of R. Stevie Moore and girl-duo Pearl Harbour, it comes as no surprise that his solo effort exhibits an avant-garde, lo-fi aesthetic; fizzing with raw and grating energy and bright ideas. The opener ‘Crime’ jangles and hums with spacey instrumentals and weird wails. The muffled, echoey beats sound as though Rosales is bashing on a cardboard box, with a handful of spoons, in the dark; but this ramshackle effect only adds to the song’s off-kilter, disconcerting charm. The pensive ‘Swingset II’ throngs with detached, ghostlike mediations and organ-esque keys, that brood with haunted melancholy. Interestingly, there is a sense of overwhelming loneliness and isolation to this doleful lament. This serves to break up the fuzzy, jarring vibe record, whilst demonstrating the variety Rosales is capable of. Splintered and fragmented, ‘Erroneous Soul Song’ soars like a shiny silver jet cutting through clouds. Chainsaw guitars splice through synth sunbeams and twisted vocals, to create a hazy, buzzing concoction, bristling with vibrancy and youth. Carving out an eccentric, whimsical soundscape in unselfconscious, playful intermissions ‘Nautilus Cry’, trips out on abstract sci/lo-fi video game beeps and clawing, spiky, frazzled distortion. With a definite sense of 80s nostalgia, the enchantingly euphoric interlude succeeds in capturing something essentially powerful and unique. With its home-recorded vibe, coupled with kooky chants, eerie keys and grainy guitars Rosales own brand of lo-fi, slacker-psyche pop has a sensibility akin to that of Ariel Pink and Blank Dogs. That said, Rosales’ sound is clearly still evolving. Even compared to relative newcomers A Grave With No Name and Jeans Wilder, his release seems a little behind the pack; less accomplished and perhaps overly stylised; cramped and at times oppressive: maybe Rosales just has too many ideas. Given that there is a general felling of hopefulness about this record, its feels strange that there is also an inherently austere sense of darkness and solitude to this solo venture. Whilst it is coherent, and symbiotic, it feels insular. Unsurprising then that, from time to time, Rosales takes lo-fi to the extreme: because he has no-one to tell him he’s gone too far. There are instances where the track progression feels fleeting or rushed and all too often the essence or idea is lost leaving songs feeling like they have not quite fulfilled their potential. That said, as an album it succeeds in many ways: it is conceptually dynamic; imagination with beachy, sonic abrasion at the core and, whilst it won’t be to everyone’s taste, it is intrinsically a very interesting listen. Photobucket