[14 February 2014]
The concept of the bedroom auteur is nothing new to the world of independent music. While previously the cost of recording and distribution scuttled the ship of many a star of tomorrow before they could shine, the advent of four-track home recording in the late ‘80s leveled that playing field, spawning a bumper crop of indie rockers lurking behind exotic monikers like Smog, East River Pipe and Portastatic. The new technology was not without its shortcomings: tape hiss and needle crackle proved charming to some, but ultimately precluded the average artist from moving to the next level. The 21st Century expanded the palate to allow high fidelity as well as portability, adding the full complement of virtual instruments to boot. Mansions mastermind Christopher Browder has made the most of these tools over the past decade, releasing a slew of rocked-up pop nuggets through a gang of digital and tangible avenues.
The newest release is called Doom Loop and comes through the good graces of Clifton Motel Records. Browder has relocated to Seattle from Louisville, Kentucky in recent years and the ten songs therein were recorded and composed in his new Capitol Hill digs, a move from house to apartment that necessitated drums being added after the fact. Mansions tracks have never screamed “live band”. While that has made touring a dodgy proposition over the years, the recorded songs have always been top notch and Doom Loop is no exception. I’ll give “The Economist” honors for best track, but lovers of big hooks and choruses who came up on ‘90’s Doghouse Records fare will eat this up.