The solo project masquerading behind a band name is an eventuality that becomes more and more prevalent in the digital age. Such obfuscation is often telling, begging the question as to why said artist is loath to release material under their government names. Paranoiac perceptions of subterfuge aside, Snailhouse is the molluscan pseudonym under which Wooden Stars guitarist Mike Feuerstack has performed solo material since 1994. While Wooden Stars has been at best semi-active in the wake of backing Julie Doiron at the turn of the millennium, Snailhouse has proven to be a pretty vibrant unit. Playing guitar and steel in front of a rotating collective of fellow (mostly) Canadians, the Montreal-based Feuerstack has released six albums and two EPs to date, each treading a fine line between the indie pop of artists like Maritime and the folkier side of the Weakerthans/Dave Bryson collaborations. Sentimental Gentlemen is even smoother than conventional Snailhouse fare, evoking the aforementioned combos and adding a pastoral Canadian Steely Dan vibe that will no doubt appeal to older fans. It’s a little twee for my inner displaced adolescent, but Sentimental Gentlemen is an indisputably well-crafted pop gem.
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