Album Review: Abram Shook, “Landscape Dream”

Abram Shook Landscape Dream
(Western Vinyl – May 12, 2015)
(Indie Pop, Psychedelic, Alternative)
Review by Rob Leonard

What’s cool about Abram Shook? Is it his name? Is it the album covers? Is it his multi-faceted musical abilities?

Well any of those options, really, but there is only one thing cooler than Abram Shook’s name – as a multi-instrumentalist connoisseur of a million flavors, the coolest aspect of Abram Shook is how he melds modern with retrospect, encapsulating the modern retrospect. Plush, dynamic soundscapes paint an audible palette as visual as the cover art. It would be easy to fault a guy for ‘being all over the place’ but here Abram is tasteful, content, and consistent in making his influences apparent. Shook’s latest release Landscape Dream is much like it’s 2014 predecessor Sun Marquee – providing commentary on the recent psych push and carrying that idea into a realm of pop sensibility. Where Sun was whimsical, smooth to the touch, and forged from sun drenched carribean-tropicalia; Landscape Dream is insistent and relies on it’s ethereal valleys and hyperbolized echoey haze.

Album opener “Never Die” soaks in superfluous pulp until the chorus reams in and Abram wails, “What Becomes/What Remains” – the dynamic of “Never Die” carries on as the mood rides between pulse and space. Layered within the production and arrangements there are momentary nods to acts such as Bear in Heaven, Destroyer, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and Spoon, specifically on “Vessel.” As REM (sleep) sets in, tracks “Get Gone,” “5Am Tribute,” “Find It,” and “Perfect” explore the most inner workings of Abram – from the pop laden TV commercial ready “Get Gone” to the slow peaceful ballad “Perfect” Abram makes it apparent that he values dynamics and diversity above all.

The breathing nature of the guitar distinctively lends itself to the disco nostalgia on “Understood”. A groove oriented track that curveballs into equally interesting disjointed breaks and verses. Overall, the clarity of the chorus on “It’s Understood” contrasts beautifully with it’s somewhat distracted verse “Don’t ask your neighbor/the message will cut through the downtown noise.” The album’s closing procession is “Jaw,” here Abram sports a Prince tinged vocal and carnival-esque melody swelling in the distance – the song you’d want waking you up and ending your Landscape Dream‘s.

Landscape Dream flows freely between pop and avant-garde, balancing beauty and chaos – an album that is as under appreciated as it’s creator.

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