Crushed Stars

Convalescing in Braille Simulacra Records

Five albums in, Todd Gautreau's Crushed Stars still makes the kind of textured, soothing, chill-out rock that perfectly suits gray drizzly days or droopy-eyed late nights.

The deliberate mid-tempo lullabies are just as calming as ever, with the same whispery delivery that made a moderate radio hit earlier this year of the band's unexpectedly winded-down cover of "99 Red Balloons" (with an equally cool cover of the Stones' "Lady Jane" as the B-side to the single; sadly, neither is included on the album). But this doesn't seem to be quite the one-man show past efforts have indicated. Perhaps because Convalescing in Braille was mixed and partially recorded by John Congleton, the contributions of drummer Jeff Ryan (Sarah Jaffe, Pleasant Grove) sound more pronounced this time around—even as layers of reverb make his subtle brush strokes, cymbal hisses and deep tom strikes sound distant.

"Technicolor," the song that comes closest to rocking out, on which Ryan cuts loose with relentless pounding rhythms, sounds just as bright and colorful as the name implies. Otherwise, evocative titles like "Fall," "Black Umbrellas" and "Frost On Wires" perfectly capture the mood of the lazy melodies, which somehow can sound at once melancholy, nostalgic and cheery.

 
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