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Sam Flax Age Waves (2012)

Sam Flax — Age Waves
Location: San Francisco, California
Album release: 2012
Record Label: Burger Records
Duration:     39:27
Tracks:
01. Fire Doesn't Burn Itself      (5:28)
02. Child of Glass      (4:34)
03. Everybody Wants      (4:18)
04. Almost Young      (4:56)
05. Dark Water      (2:02)
06. Crystal Death      (2:52)
07. Another Day      (3:45)
08. Further West      (5:09)
09. Backwards Fire      (3:43)
10. Homesick for Osaka      (2:41)
¬ Composed, Performed, Produced, Recorded by SAM FLAX
¬ with AMY BLAUSTEIN: drums on Further West
¬ and MATT BALDWIN: outro flutter guitar on Everybody Wants and additional guitar on Further West
¬ Assembled from recordings made between 2005-2011
¬ © 2012 Sam Flax Keener
¬ VINYL OUT SEPT 17, 2012 on Burger Records (US)
and The Sounds Of Sweet Nothing (UK / Europe)
Website: http://highercolor.com/
Bandcamp: http://samflax.bandcamp.com/album/age-waves
Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/samflax
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ssaammffllaaxx
Press contact:
Burger Records: http://www.burgerrecords.com
By Michael James Hall, 21 September 2012   6/10 (http://www.thelineofbestfit.com)
¬ Like R Stevie Moore has known for so many years, the sound and feel of old VHS tape can conjure some magical sensations in the subconscious. While the ambience of a TV humming in the next room, apparently without volume, is enough to raise a feeling of almost imperceptible unease in anyone, it takes great skill to hone that vague notion into a set of managed emotional peaks and troughs that leave the listener genuinely affected.
¬ Moore seems to have passed on at least the basics of this skill to his sonic progeny Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, and artists such as Mac DeMarco, Gabriel Bruce and now Sam Flax (named for an American office supply chain it would seem) are taking this purposeful backward glancing, burying a stash of David Lynch doom just beneath the surface, spicing with ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll cabaret vibes and producing albums that vary in quality but all maintain that VHS-pop aesthetic.
¬ Flax’s record, when narrowed from the pack, is overly long and trades a little too much on sound and style over song and substance. While it may have taken many years for Flax to put this set together it occasionally feels like a sadly shallow affair, the San Franciscan’s strained voice often skimming across the surface of these low-res pop tunes fairly inconsequentially.
¬ When it works and tune weds tone it’s a beautiful thing. ‘Fire Doesn’t Burn Itself’ which earlier this year was given the evocative retro-fetish video treatment, is a looming goth of a tune, lip curled, hair in a pompadour, ludicrously nonsensical chorus lyric (you’ve seen the title) reverberating cod-sagely in the ears of the listener.
‘Backwards Fire’ too is a shining moment. It veers away from the steady analogue telly feel of the rest of the record, shunning fuzz and hidden memory triggers for a shaggy acoustic guitar, gleaming riff and girl group melody reminiscent somehow of The Temptaions’ ‘My Girl’. Yet, again the chorus lyric “Yeah she’s a backwards fire/Eyes like a wire” is declared with obtuse pride despite its content.
¬ There are flashes of drum machine glam that the early ‘80s woulda been proud of – the handclaps and harmonized falsettos of smooth disco flirt ‘Child Of Glass’ (even the title recalls Hazel O’Connor) and the Bryan Ferry-suited day one drum machine purr of ‘Almost Young’ perform that role effortlessly.
¬ The John Carpenter-esque instrumental Dark Water is a brief treat while the ethereal sadness of ‘Crystal Death’ recalls early Manga soundtracks and Vangelis synth lines in one smart stroke.
¬ There’s plenty of variety then, despite the whole record working within relatively narrow parameters.  Whether Flax is able to wrest glory from among his similarly styled contemporaries and end up in such a revered position as the legendary Mr Moore is entirely dependent on what comes next from the strangepop troubadour.
¬ In the meanwhile this is a relatively tasty bite of an emerging though perhaps not exactly ever-evolving genre.
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Posted on 19 September 2012 by Bowlegs
¬ Sam Flax has a cool name – I can’t really dig much else up on the San Francisco native. This record was released earlier in the year on cassette – but looks like the buzz became to too much and now you can grab it on vinyl too.
¬ This is a thick mix of fuzzy lo-fi hum, the scuzzy remnants of 80s pop and a psychedelic freefall – all put to tape over a number of years by the man Flax. From the off you’re swamped by the effortlessly stewed mix, its blurred and dirty edges make it hard to focus; this is some heady pop with a contagious flavour.
¬ Opening on the flanging electric strums and infectious rhythm, opener Fire Doesn’t Burn Itself is the perfect intro. Flax’s vocal is quiet, floating within the mix like a space cadet – the various synths and guitars all scattered like debris.
¬ Child Of Glass feels like a smooth Michael McDonald backing track pushed through a beaten and bruised practise amp. Flax croons softly with an 80s soul lost in an age of garage pop. Almost Young then drops a 70s upbeat bop across its distorted DNA while Backwards Waves grows from acoustic strums. The latter the start of the comedown, completed with the instrumental meander that is Homesick For Osaka.
¬ What makes this record so good is Flax’s ability to explore the past with such a wayward and disorderly approach. He effortlessly drives the music in all directions – from the underground, to the outskirts, past the Avant-Garde and right back home. I have absolutely no idea what Flax might come up with next – which is probably why this record feels so right.  -Zac Cohen-

Bowlegs Music Review
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Also:
by Max Raymond***½ (http://www.musicomh.com)
by Matthew BevingtonRating: 5/10 (http://thefourohfive.com)
Reviewer: Coral Williamson; Rating: 6/10 (http://www.thisisfakediy.co.uk)
'Age Waves' isn’t going to revolutionise anything, but it’s not trying to.
By Art Levy; Contributor (http://www.prefixmag.com)
¬ Sam Flax's brand of late-night psychedelia is turning heads, and for good measure. His just-released debut album Age Waves--actually, re-released, as it came out earlier this year with little-to-no fanfare--is a moody collection of sounds that's nervy and emotional. © Live 2012 Cafe Du Nord; Photo by Katie Miller © Live 2011 McLaren Park; Photo by Raina Selene

Sam Flax Age Waves (2012)

 


 

 

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