March 26, 2004

The Album Leaf "Seal Beach"

Jimmy LaValle's profile in the indie-rock world has increased greatly over the past few years. The Album Leaf is no longer considered the side project of indie-jazzers Tristeza, it's now a full-time band that's received tons of well-deserved critical acclaim. They've collaborated with such indie-rock innovators as Sigur Ros, Bright Eyes and Her Space Holiday. The Album Leaf recently signed to Sub Pop, and it's safe to say that the future is looking up for LaValle.

In the meantime, he has given us Seal Beach, released by the melancholy Spanish label Acuarela, and it's safe to say that these two parties deserve one another. Acuarala's specialized in releasing sad music for the past decade--most often in the EP format--and the Album Leaf's brand of dreamy atmospherics follow the label's aesthetic quite well. As usual, the five songs on Seal Beach are instrumental; they're very slow and dreamy, though they're often augmented with beats. On songs like "Seal Beach" and "One Minute," Seal Beach is very reminiscent of the work of Brian Eno and Harold Budd, though on more beat-laden songs as "Malmo" and "Brennivin," I'm reminded of artists like Bark Psychosis and Howie B.

One of my writers is also a new father, and I gave him my spare copy of Seal Beach. Its gentle waves of sound are perfect for relaxing children of any age. I hope he likes it. I'm sure it will help lull him and his father to sleep at 3 AM, and I think that's the true reward of such a beautiful record. Seal Beach is a wonderful little release that will satisfy your Album Leaf fixation and pacify your sleepless inner child.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website:
Label Website:

No comments: