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Album of the Week

Hawker M. James – Long Playing Lo-Fidelity

The bedroom recording is catnip, nay, manna for music bloggers, but Long Playing Lo-Fidelity by Rochester wunderkind multi-instrumentalist Hawker M. James hits so many sweet spots, it’s almost ridiculous. A brilliantly curated four track recording that successfully summons the gorgeous ear candy sounds of The Flaming Lips 1999-2006, I’m From Barcelona, Mercury Rev and Brian Wilson, it’s another tremendous record from our neighbors to the east, and our Album Of The Week.

Right off the bat it has to be noted that the mix by Al Carlson at Gary’s Electric is beyond superb. Everything on the album has a scale and sense of space to it, helping HMJ’s home recordings operate in the sonic sandboxes of Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, Steve Drozd and Dave Friddman. The sense of density that permeates  Long Playing Lo-Fidelity makes it feel timeless yet immediate and showcases the talent and ambition that’s been part of Longwave and done production work for (blog favorites) The Demos.

“Human Blood” gets Long Playing Lo-Fidelity going with an exuberant burst of fuzzed out psych rock that sets up the lead single “Fast Friends” perfectly, a hazily melancholic piece of soulful and fuzzed out pop music that finds catharsis in a sax solo reminiscent of both M83’s “Midnight City” and Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” “Heartstrings” and “Harmonious Honk” are lo-fi takes on Jeff Lynne’s ELO and Sweden’s tripped out choir I’m From Barcelona, both of whom used different approaches to find similar celestial sounds. “Sinner Go Home” with it’s mellotrons and aching vocals, is an unexpected slice of psychedelic gospel soul,  while “How The Story Goes” and “Rocking Chair” feel like the progeny generated by the holy union of Mercury Rev and Supergrass.

Excellently sequenced,  the album cranks it all up for a big finish, with glammed out stompers “Here’s A Love Song” and “4th Of July Buzz” setting up a tight finale featuring the funky and slinky “Cry Wolf” and a lovely, summery coda in “Marco Polo,” ideal during Western New York winters. In many regards, this isn’t so much an “album of the week” as an “album for right bloody now.” This fine collection of fuzzed out ear candy is rewarding, delicious, and requires your attention immediately.

Written by Cliff Parks

Written by Cliff Parks