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Brent Cash

How Will I Know If I'm Awake

(Marina; US: 4 Mar 2008; UK: 3 Mar 2008)

If the liner notes didn’t say this retro-Spector production was recently recorded, I never would have guessed it. A Georgia based singer-songwriter, Brent Cash must have been dreaming up his debut up for a waking life. It sounds so much like a lost early ‘70s AM radio orchestral pop record that, with a few added record pops and snaps, you could easily slip any track from this album this on an oldies station between Elton John and Billy Joel and no one would be the wiser. With the glint only sun bleached analog gear can provide driving piano, sweet strings, warm bass, jangly guitar, multi-tracked vocals bursting with the joy of love, the hope of a new day, and, occasionally, regret at the loss of time, every song is catchy as SARS in an airport. Just when I was wondering why nobody makes albums like the Moody Blues’ Days of Future Passed any more, How Will I Know If I’m Awake came along and opened my eyes to the sunshine. Thanks for putting the effort in, Cash.

Although, now that you mention it, I learned many a life changing notion from Richard Linklater’s essential Waking Life. One little tidbit is that one of the only things you can’t really control in lucid dreams is illumination. If you see a light switch or a lamp in a dream and try to operate either one, they will not work as in real life. Therefore, by the process of elimination, you can figure out if you’re awake by flicking the lights on and off wherever you are. From personal experience, I also find it incredibly hard to run in dreams. I always end up moving as fast as a relaxed walk, no matter how motivated I am. Give those a shot.


Author of blurbs, curator of playlists, and booker of shows, Alan Ranta has been plugging away at that music writing and programming thing since 2004. His brutally honest critical opinion has appeared in such publications as Exclaim!, CBC Music, PopMatters and Tiny Mix Tapes, and has been enlisted to help judge the Polaris Music Prize, Pazz & Jop, and Juno Awards. Based in East Van, he graduated with a BFA in music from Simon Fraser University in 2012. He's also a social media plague, cat whisperer, socio-political haranguer, Canucks fan, and one of the last remaining cowboys, with a butt that won't quit.

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18 Oct 2011
Cash's sumptuous recreation of sunshine symphonic pop from 40 years ago is very much a record that caters to quite specialized retro tastes.
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