Review: Aaron Read - "Even Rats Can Feel the Sun"

Aaron Read - Even Rats Can Feel the Sun
(Green Burrito Records 2013)
"Whether Even Rats... is sheer genius or just another cassette's worth of lo-fi eccentricity, I'm not sure."

Even Rats Can Feel the Sun is another one of those spooky psych-pop albums that I go crazy over. It may bear the same sort of crusty, tape-deck fuzz that just about everything I review is blanketed in, but there's an adventurous nature to this album. It's the kind of album that really reminds you of a band whose name you can't quite remember. Aaron Read will drive you down the road to pop bliss and suddenly turn at a 90 degree angle, sending you off a cliff in a blast of psychedelic nonsense. His album flirts with perfection, but at the same time laughs in the face of conventionality. Whether Even Rats... is sheer genius or just another cassette's worth of lo-fi eccentricity, I'm not sure. But at the moment, I am really feeling this tape's far-out groove.

"Soft Golden Drums" is the ambient intro to the album, at first simply composed of three looped guitar notes. Slowly, more and more loops and short acoustic riffs are introduced to the track. It begins to sound like the theme song to a 70's sit-com or the accompaniment to a time-lapse shot of a cityscape in a PBS documentary. The following track, "Woman In the Dunes" is similar in structure, attaching extra instrumentation to a looped guitar riff. This time, however, Read's singing makes a welcome appearance, as layered and laid-back as the guitar riffs it mingles with in a whirlpool of reverb. Suddenly, things get out of control, Read's bag of melodies spilling over into the song currently being concocted, becoming a cacophonous, soupy mess. It doesn't sound good on paper, but trust me, it works. "How Does It Mean" is the album's shining moment, hitting the listener with hook after hook. The crunchy guitar tone is scalded, its rough edges digging deep into Read's tender vocals. Even among the many stellar titles in the Green Burrito Records catalog, Aaron Read's solo debut shines brightly. Listen to "Soft Golden Drums" and "How Does It Mean" below.