Sunday 13 January 2013

The Hideout - Tone Dress

Album review by

This duo from Seattle are very much a DIY set-up. The pair recorded, mixed and produced this album themselves using the limited equipment that they had, and it certainly shows. That's not to suggest that The Hideout are a couple of shambling amateurs messing about, more that the songs on 'Tone Dress' are presented in a warts-and-all style, showing the initial development of a musical project, with no attempt to paper over any cracks or pretend they spent hours tweaking every aspect in a high-end studio. Many of the best records ever made aren't note perfect throughout, polished until the heart of the songs is rubbed away or presented as masterpieces of sound engineering. Indeed it's these qualities that can make a record feel human, something to warm to.

At 16 tracks there's a lot to digest here, especially with the odd song stretching to six, seven and even eight minutes in length, although the official release skips the rather routine runs through of cover versions 'Life's A Gas and 'Another Day'. It's a mixed bag too; on 'Tone Dress' we see the good, the bad and the inspired. Let's start with the good: the lo-fi, echoing 'Lady Death Doesn't Mind' has a trippy quality; 'Muse Standard Time' is hallucinatory drone-rock with niche appeal; the faraway dream of 'Concerto' is a pleasant if odd listen; 'Kensington Gardens' is a relaxed psychedelic journey; 'Run' is proggy, cosmic krautrock; on 'Sexier Boy' they hit upon a pop song of sorts, but definitely not in the conventional sense.

The bad is, like the others I guess, open to debate. 'Welcome To Arrakis' is twangy and borders on being OK but fails due to being overlong and just too lo-fi for its own good; 'Faces' is a few decent ideas that aren't followed through; by the mid-point of the seven-and-a-half-minute 'Turn Back' you begin thinking that's a very good suggestion; 'Shrunken Heads' is an uninviting drone; the nearly-nine minute 'The Violent Thundergroud' might be OK but each time I tried to listen to it I ended up drifting off somewhere else entirely. Now the inspired: 'Ars Nova' is a curious psychedelic garage instrumental, the guitar could be from a surf classic, but it's almost monumentally simple and repetitive, yet it sounds great; 60s garage is given another hazy makeover on the excellently blurred 'A Very Long Year'; final track 'Shadowgrafts' is equally skewed and lovable. It's an interesting album, that's for sure. Plus at a name-your-price download you can't go wrong. Fancy the double vinyl edition? That comes at a recession-friendly $1,000. #Optimistic

The Hideout's website

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