June 14, 2005

Slow Dazzle "The View From The Floor"

Slow Dazzle is the project of Shannon McArdle and Timothy Bracy, who are two-thirds of New York-via-Athens, Georgia indie-rockers The Mendoza Line. Instead of offering up Mendoza Line-like country-laced rural indie rock, Slow Dazzle's sound is much more urban and somewhat more druggy. McArdle sings the majority of songs on the album; her voice is soft and woozy and somewhat dreamlike; comparisons to Hope Sandoval are justified, but the twang in her voice on country rockers "The Extent of My Remarks" and "Wedding Dance" breaks the comparison. Bracy, who appears on "A Welfare State" and "The Prosecution Rests," sings in a deadpan style that instantly recalls Lou Reed.

The View From The Floor contains moments that hint at Mendoza Line's graceful country/folk sound, such as on the sad "A Welfare State" and the upbeat "Wedding Dance," but there are moments like "Fleur De Lie" and "Now or Never or Later," which brood and shuffle along with a cold, detatched beat that's occasionally reminsicent of--but not indebted to--bands like Stereolab and Secret Machines. They strike the perfect balance between the urban and the rural, and 'there's a tear in my beer' and 'everybody must get stoned' are two musical concepts that fuel their inspiration. (Of course, it's somewhat telling that their band name is inspired by a John Cale record.) Still, the duo has a knack for songwriting, so the rustic country vibe doesn't feel out of place next to the brief moments of glimmering urban psych-rock.

Overall, The View From The Floor is an excellent record, but it does have one flaw--it's too short. They've done an excellent job of weaving their songs together, and the record flows in a seamless way that's quite appealing, but it ends just as it's piqued your interest. Though the songs are well-developed, the album feels incomplete, but that doesn't distract from the excellence of their songwriting. That being said, The View From The Floor is a promising debut, even if you're left wanting more. Apparently, the duo is already at work on their second album, and hopefully they'll offer up more (and more of the same) songs. Either way, Slow Dazzle is a band that's worth seeking out.

Artist Website: http://www.slow-dazzle.com
Label Website: http://www.misrarecords.com

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