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CD Review: Caribou - "Andorra"

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Artist: Caribou
Album: Andorra
Label: Merge Records
Release Date: August 21, 2007

Hey lookie folks, it's another solo project by a brilliant Canadian. Dan Snaith originally released his work as Manitoba until he ran afoul of the Dictators frontman, Handsome "Dick" Manitoba, and had to change his stage name to...... Caribou.

While some of Caribou's first release, The Milk of Human Kindness, sounded somewhat electronica-light, Andorra certainly does not: this is raging full-on psychedelica. Is Snaith channeling quirkier moments of the Strawberry Alarm Clock, or perhaps George Harrison has truly been born again? Maybe it's something a little more contemporary, like a tribute album to the XTC side project, the Dukes of Stratosphear.

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It's remarkable how a recent series of CDs that have hit the LAist desks are from this remarkable sub-genre of shoegazy, dream-pop psychedelica: Animal Collective, Ulrich Schnauss, Sunset Rubdown, Dappled Cities, Jim Noir - there's enough here for a Shoegazer Festival, somewhere nice like Montecito or maybe it should be somewhere ironically bleak like Lodi.

Snaith's whispery and breathy vocals are shrouded in layers of jingle bells, tambourines, reverbed guitars, Mini Moog, and bursts of wood instruments and strings ("Melody Day","Desiree"). Other sounds heard are classic psychedelic effects like reversed drum tracks and background instrumentation and the twangy twang of the sitar and its ilk ("Sandy","After Hours"). Listen for Beach Boys' harmonies all over the place, "She's the One" is a perfect example. Perhaps my favorite of the bunch is "Eli" because it's the most guitar/rock pop of the bunch and it really does sound like the Dukes of Stratosphear.

Andorra remains tenuously connected to the earth by a single psychedelic thread for the first seven tracks of the album but tracks eight and nine (especially nine, whoa!) abandon the gravity of this world and send us to deep space. "Niobe" is an incredible nine minute romp that left me wanting a lot more. If you're a fan of shoegaze masters then you should already have this on your shelf. If you're not a fan, I'm not sure this will convert you, but give the entire album a chance, the last couple tracks definitely transcend the genre.

Caribou comes to town on 10/26/07 at the Troubadour with Born Ruffians

Cairbou - "Melody Day"

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