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  Iowa Anvil  
  The Graze  
  J-Shirt Records  
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The Graze is the solo project of Louis O'Callaghan. Who is he? Well, you'd probably know him if you lived in the Northwest. He's played with a lot of people, and is most noted for playing with Summerset Frisbee, which includes members of Built To Spill. He is currently playing bass for the band Rosyvelt.

The closest thing to this album would be an Elliot Smith record, without as much power. But the potential is there. I think O'Callaghan could develop, just as any musician can, into something much more. I hear Unwound in this sometimes, and there have also been Beatles comparisons, although I don't hear that. There have been mentions of Nirvana as well. Hmm. I don't know about that either.

It could be more or less a developed Northwestern sound that O'Callaghan is portraying here for us. It's a sound that has developed in the midst of all the other developments in underground music over the last 15 years. And it could be an over examining rock critic clique in the Northwest that is looking way too much into this record.

There is also a lot of music on the album. For the most part, the album is relatively slow tempo, desperate sounding, indie folk rock. The image on the cover of a windmill and a big hill and a blue sky indicates the music within. There's a lot of slightly distorted full guitar chord strumming, and simple percussion arrangements.

The first track, Devices, starts the album with a cadence laden, acoustic strumming, slow tempo, folksy rock track. Not very interesting or catchy or anything else. The best part is when the song ends, after they've transitioned to the obligatory stomp box distortion. There is a really sucky guitar solo, layered with another sucky guitar solo on top of it. Think Built to Spill being played with your toes. I like that!

The next two tracks are solo guitar with singing. Here's where there is a serious problem with the album. Is it a rock album, or a solo acoustic album? Then, halfway through track four, Maudlin, we get a hint of the rock to come. On track five, I am the little girl, there is some promise delivered. This is a real heavy sounding, steady tempo rock track, with a fuzzy guitar solo lick running rampant through the song. Very Dinosaur Jr., with a little Sebadoh, which makes it probably the most impressive track.

Then, we get another similar rocker with Doubt. This one's a little more focused and doesn't dilly dally around. It is a slow tempo with a really cheap sounding distorted guitar. Then we go back to the same thing for the rest of the album. Just really boring and perhaps heart wrenched sappy indie folk rock. There are fuzzy guitars, clean pretty guitars, and sometimes an organ.

I think the album doesn't work because it is a solo album of sorts. Many of the recordings feature different musicians, and there isn't much of an album feeling. It's as if all of this material was compiled and put together, compilation style. The songs don't have much to offer, and they're not that interesting or different.

I think O'Callaghan is probably a talented musician who wanted to release his own record, and this is it. It's not much, but there is promise. I'd like to see a more focused release, or perhaps a studio recording. There might be something there. Right now, it's just windmills, big hills, and blue skies.

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