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The Flower Machine

Lavender Lane

(Rainbow Quartz; US: 16 Nov 2010; UK: Import; Online Release Date: 2 Nov 2010)

Wrap yourself in the sounds of the Paisley Underground

It appears that Todd Tobias has a life outside of making records for former Guided By Voices front man Robert Pollard after all. The producer, who has basically helmed every release worth mentioning by Pollard in his various incarnations since about 2002, is noted for making records that could be best described as creamy, masterfully blending various instruments into the mix to make a rich, full sound. It’s too bad, then, that Tobias is only used sparingly on the second album from Los Angeles’ Paisley Underground revivalists the Flower Machine, only taking over the boards for five out of the fourteen tracks to be found on Lavender Lane. This is an album that really could have used a producer to do the grunt work, instead of singer/songwriter Peter Quinnell. It sounds, at times, incredibly thin. And that’s to say nothing of how Quinnell often lets the instrumentation run amok, like the rambling organ that doesn’t know when to quit on album opener “Traveling By Trampoline”.


There are some good tunes to be found here. The Tobias-produced “In a Window” could reasonably pass for a Pollard song, as it is full of soft whimsy. The song that follows, “I Am the Coelacanth”, sounds remarkably like the Clientele. As these touch points allude, the Flower Machine is a decidedly retro band and it has set the controls of the time machine back to the jingle-jangle sounds of the psychedelic 1960s. If you’re a fan of Nuggets-flavored rock, you’ll find much to admire here. It’s just too bad that it sounds so terrible at points, and not in a bedroom tape hiss kind of way. Quinnell might be a reasonably good songwriter, but he can’t make a decent sounding record on good equipment to save his life.

Rating:

Zachary Houle is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He has been a Pushcart Prize nominee for his short fiction, and the recipient of a writing arts grant from the City of Ottawa. He has had journalism published in SPIN magazine, The National Post (Canada), Canadian Business, OttawaShowbox.com and more. He also reviews books for bookwookie.ca.


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