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Golden Years




Mush Records

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Brothertiger is the project of John Jagos, an electronic musician from Ohio. His music really reminds me of Washed Out -- it has a vaguely dreamy sort of feeling over laptopped new wave sounds. Yalls and Sunny Shadows are also sort of hitting the same vein of mellowish synthpop. Why is this type of music so trendy these days?

Golden Years starts off with The Young Ones, an interlude of light keys and oohing voices layered over a sample of children yelling. (No Neil or Rick or Vyv, but what can you do?). The children sounds fade out and keyboards tinkle along, picking up the pace in I've Been Waiting. This song has a summery feel to it, with bright keyboard sounds and a laid back beat moving along steadily. Good stuff.

Wind At My Back has a tinkling rhythm, lots of layers of oohing voice behind Jagos's voice, and a nice bass riff. But the next song takes it to an interesting level. On Too Convinced To Care Jagos sings wildly, crooning along with a soul singers vibe. However, the voice is layered under a slight echo, making it sound like a mid 1980s Lionel Ritchie song you hear playing on the pool soundsystem while underwater. It's a neat effect, and he pulls it off well.

Reach It All has a wavering synth bass beat, trebly percussion, and an echoed voice. This is really nice, that bouncing synth bass just rolling along with a flat drum beat, and then layers of echoed voice and a happy little hi-hat riff. Suddenly, Voices is short for one of Jagos's tunes -- under 3 minutes. This is a short interlude of that synth beat and some wordless aahing vocals.

The albums high point is up next. The song is called Golden Years, and has a warbling beat and a nice synth line chiming along. This reminds me of a song that would have had a day-glo video back in 1987. His singing is a little gaspier here than on other songs, but the great, happy beat really makes it. Lovers Watch continues the 1980s vibe, here with him singing a full backing part to himself. It's an okay song, i guess, but it pales in comparison to the songs that surround it.

The next song, Out Of Line is like something that a Prince-affiliated band would have done in 1988, while wearing some sort of uniform and dancing in the video. It has a slippery bass riff, a very crisp drum beat, and lots and lots of handclaps. This is darned fun.

After that, Jagos moves in a different direction, almost like he is finished mining the 1980s and needs to progress a decade. And sure enough, the final song here, Turquoise (Skyline) reminds me more of Young American Primitive than new wave. The song is based around a very old sounding vocal loop under a slowly chugging beat, his reverbing voice, and layers of keys. The song doesn't quite grow in the "adding layer upon layer" style that was de rigeur back in the trance era, but it evokes the spirit of that era pretty well.

I have enjoyed this record much, but i can admit that much of this record is little too "samey", meaning that the tracks tend to blend together into one amiable mush. It's a pretty good mush for those who like this sort of thing, but others might find this music too generic, too similar to what others are doing. For example, do you really need both a Washed Out record and a copy of Golden Years? I suspect, for most people, the answer is no. However, when Jagos is really "on", such as Golden Years, I've Been Waiting, or Out Of Line, what he is doing seems really special.

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