In the late '90s, the creative vision of singer/songwriter Alex Sterling birthed the Desoto Reds. Their inaugural EP emerged in 1999, setting the stage for an evolving sonic journey that would span decades. Fogsnob Records, in the early 2000s, unfurled two full-length albums, Preppy Freakout volumes 1&2, while Floating Man Records bestowed upon the world the seminal Hanglide Thru Yer Window LP in 2004.
The year 2010 witnessed the release of the LP Roaring Across the Infinite Plain, propelling Desoto Reds into the coveted CMJ top 200 and gracing stages across the Bay Area, including a memorable opening slot for the enigmatic Of Montreal. Following a 12-year hiatus for the rigors of parenthood, the Desoto Reds have resurfaced, offering up a seven-song EP titled Cordless Phone.
For those of us who were raised on a steady diet of Pavement, Yo La Tengo and Guided by Voices, the experience of delving into this EP is akin to a nostalgic voyage. It beckons us to a bygone era when the indie rock scene thrived with untamed energy.
The EP unfolds with "the insect world" and the initial impression is striking—the vocals resonate with echoes of Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie, delivering a haunting falsetto that leaves an indelible mark. The music, alive and untamed, weaves a tapestry of jangly guitars, tom-heavy drum rhythms, bass grooves and the unmistakable presence of an organ. It's a raw, unfiltered sound that feels like an intimate live performance.
The title track "cordless phone" takes the stage next, a catchy tune that retains the same ensemble of sounds, yet the chorus stands out with crystal clarity. It's an infectiously fun track, imbued with an airy, carefree spirit. "impaled by an icicle" ventures into a more mystical soundscape, evoking psychedelic echoes reminiscent of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band but rooted firmly in the garage rock ethos.
"creature" invites us into a realm of free jazz-inspired experimentation, where the music unfurls with a loose, improvisational spirit. The groove locks into place with precision, drawing to mind the visionary work of Sparklehorse and The Flaming Lips. "shetland" emerges as a sonic tempest, introducing itself with a spirited count-off that builds into a fuzz-laden groove. The EP finds its zenith with "love you" and culminates with "crater," a Zappa-esque deconstruction of a song.
For those of a certain age I think this album will deeply resonate and bring back memories of when "indie rock" was at its peak. Without reservation, I recommend this EP, a rejuvenating musical journey that rekindles the flames of youthful musical passion.
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