Black Crow Marathon [CS; Self-released]

Like Jon Barba near him, Patrick Porter in Colorado or Sam Gas Can on the other side of the country, Restaurnaut’s Nicholas Dolezal is among a handful of folks out there who still appreciate the “song,” at least enough to spit the notes out in all their verse-chorus-structured glory. Yes, they’re every-damn-where, and they’re doing it in a wobbly-kneed way that seems lo-fi first out of material necessity (i.e., using what the musicians have available to them — simple instruments, crude tape recording setups, etc.), and second as something of a purposefully subversive approach to singer-songwriter tropes that seems critical in response to the hyper-gloss cheese of the mainstream. Restaurnaut’s particular brand, which I think he accurately pins as “folka-dot,” sounds like it’s scribbled across the air via cross-legged ukulele strums and a blown-out crunch that feels tangible and chunky, like it could be scooped up with a spoon. This collection of songs is indeed the marathon its title promises to be, 90 minutes of tunes with backwards time-warps, laser zaps of noise, Casio keyboard blip-beats, minimal overdubs and samples, a spoken word monologue that admits itself to being tape-filler, and at least one odd and uncomfortable minutes-on-end moment of silence that come off a bit awkward and head-scratching. But everywhere else (and despite the album’s inconsistent production, the fact that without a track list anywhere I have no idea what any of these songs are called, and that the tape itself might as well be held together with Band-Aids), the music beneath the hiss is endearing, honest and often quite beautiful, as Daniel Johnston songs are, sung out with quaint and comforting deliveries through a couple of different vocal personalities. All in all, it’s a tape for kicking back in the hammock and letting the free swing do most of the thinking for you.


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