April 12, 2004

The Flower Machine "Chalk Dust Dream of the Tea Cozy Mitten Company"

It was only a matter of time before a band like The Flower Machine came along. Their sound is a heady, swirling mix of psychedelic rock, with a little bit of country-rock and quite a bit of 80s British indie influence to boot. Please don't make the mistake of mistaking them for a retro band, though. Comparisons to Beachwood Sparks and The Great Lakes have been made, but such comparisons are a disservice, simply because they're not exactly accurate. If you must compare them to another modern band, compare them to the Clientele--even though they don't exactly sound like them either.

While it's true that there are flurries of Sixties pop on Chalk Dust Dream of the Tea Cozy Mitten Company--dig the "Strawberry Fields Forever" mellotron on "In The Glow" and "How To Fly an Aeroplane"--but for the most part I wouldn't say that The Flower Machine are a retro band in any sense of the word. Okay, so they have sitars and mellotrons and twelve-string guitars that sound like Roger McGuinn on a good day, but they're not retro. And yes, their music is lazy and kind of stoned, but it's also fun, enjoyable and relaxing, . And it's also true that on songs like "Why Not Stop And Have Some Tea," main Flower Peter Quinnell does sound like an American Alasidair Maclean, but that's about as far as the Clientele comparison can go, because he's a little too upbeat (or not too stoned) to be as mopey as our beloved Alasdair.

Chalk Dust Dream of the Tea Cozy Mitten's one flaw is simple: IT'S TOO SHORT! Of the eleven songs on here, two of the tracks are nothing more than brief, seconds-long snippets of sound that connect two other songs. Cheats! I want to hear more great songs like "British Rail" and "I Am the Coelacanth," darn it! All in all, this is a great debut record, and I'm hoping they flesh out their next record, because 28 minutes isn't enough!

--Joseph Kyle

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