Friday, 11 May 2018

Album Review | Gary McGuinness | 'Down in the Avenue, Back to Cul De Sac' (2018)

image credit: gary mcguinness 
Released on May 3, artist Gary McGuinness presents an eclectic mix of genres with his record Down in the Avenue, Back to Cul De Sac. A collection of eleven songs, McGuinness presents a tracklist that shouldn’t work due to each song staggering difference in tone and genre to one another, but with an aesthetic and tone that does not falter throughout its run-time, McGuinness solidifies his ideas and compositions into a record that flows seamlessly, despite his contrasting exploration into different genres.

The album opens with ‘Yelt’, imbued with a burgeoning, punk-infused bass line reminiscent of the DC hardcore scene on the 80s, blossoming in a lo-fi DIY aesthetic. McGuinness then moves into the psychedelic, where modification and varying effects are added to his vocals on the title track, emulating a certain late-Beatles vibe whilst also demonstrating his impressive skill and ease at producing unconventional guitar solos.

‘Owned by the Devil’ marks the beginning of the acoustic portion of the record, where McGuinness’ vocals are able to captivate and permeate the soul without distortion, especially on the chorus. The ambiguity and mystery surrounding folk rock continues on ‘Chumbi World’, a Neil Young-esce instrumental break with a folky melody provided by a harmonica.

Twangs of blues rock make an appearance on ‘Bored of Your Face’, where snippets of electric notes blend within the beautiful acoustic tones and the eventual harmonies towards the end of the song that blends wonderfully with McGuinness’ gritty vocals. ‘Sirens’ moves away from the blues and into 70s soft rock, whilst the two featuring tracks of Terry McCartan and Sara Leith play with the acoustic semblance of the record even further and allow their vocals to shine.

‘Phenomenal’, ‘Sensory Romance’ and ‘An Overindulgent Suicide’ share a theme of psychedelic experimentation, where chilled vibes, looped beats, and darkness reside, along with early Pink Floyd vibes above a calamity of guitars on the album’s closer.

Down in the Avenue, Back to the Cul De Sac is a promising release from McGuinness. It’s a record where you can definitely hear his influences, but he in no way depends on them. McGuinness is able to take them, morph them and turn them into something completely his own, creating his own personal vibe, aesthetic and confidence that makes this record work so well. 

You can listen to Down in the Avenue, Back to Cul De Sac via Bandcamp below.


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