Daniel Folmer

Wear Headphones (Gutterth Records)

If I had to venture a guess—just based on the personally scrawled letter on notebook paper that arrived accompanying Daniel Folmer's new release—I'd say he's a simple guy, prone to bouts of wit and vulnerability. Hell, the 21-year-old explains his musical history (cello since age 7, writing and recording the last six years and he's "been featured in lots of H.S. musicals") and also includes his intention to work as a chemical-dependency counselor upon graduation, but that "if [he] were to be reincarnated as anyone, it would be Marquis de Sade or Rush Limbaugh." Sure enough, the 22 songs (that's right, 22 songs) on Folmer's Wear Headphones offer a certain matter-of-factness, and many of them feel like a straightforward journal, née diary, entry...if guys really admitted to writing in diaries. Pared-down instrumentation, with the occasional blip and tweak ("Speed Queen"), is paired with Folmer's clean, but not-always-pitch-perfect, voice that reeks of innocence. The album jumps from open-heart singer-songwriter balladry ("Vapors of Poison") to messy, sleepy rock akin to Super XX Man and Silver Scooter ("Serotonin") and, well, why not, anyone that respects Pavement. It feels like he covers just about any emotion, but then, that's probably not too hard to do with more than 20 songs. Naïve but droll, Folmer is a sensitive but imperfect boyfriend in song, especially after he gets his edgy lyrics on during tracks such as "Orifice or Oedipus" and "Ashley McCoy." Headphones, in short, is too long, but I suspect this is the result of an artist's "I'm not objective, and I don't know which songs to cut" confusion...which is forgivable and as true an emotion as any.

 
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