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Around 3 A.M.

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For every listener there is some genre that just gets you going, and no matter how generic a band is, if they do that genre, you will have a high tolerance for it. For example, i love the hazy, dreamy shoegazer sound, with thudding drums, operatic vocals, and a wall of distorted guitar noise. I just eat that stuff up, and i can't get enough of it. And as someone who listens to a lot of that stuff, i have to talk about Around 3 A.M., the debut LP from a Bay Area shoegazer act called Andalusia.

They aren't the most innovative band, but they do make classic "we have too many effects pedals" shoegaze and they do it well. Additionally, they have a singer with a deep, strong female voice. I find them to be very compelling, and if you have enjoyed the works of Mira or Nona Delichas, then you will enjoy Andalusia.

There are some issues with the recording of this album. Specifically, the drumming is flat and distant, which is typical of so many self-released albums. (Apparently it is very difficult to record drums properly.) However, there is a precedent for flat drumming in the History of Shoegaze: the sound reminds me of the only Alison's Halo record, which suffered from a similar drumming flaw. However, on both records (the Alison’s Halo and Around 3 A.M.), there is a certain amateurishness, a sense that the band are young kids making noise and having a great time doing so, and the songs shine through their youth and lack of recording skill. This is a favorable comparison, in my book.

It is the songs that make this LP noteworthy. Specifically, the song Sunday Morning, which is Andalusia's addition to the canon of shoegaze classics. It features an overpowering and fuzzy bass riff, tapping cymbals providing a fast steady rhythm, and nicely crunchy guitars distorted all to heck and back like something from Flying Saucer Attack. And then there is the voice, with vocalist Suzy Maclay really nailing the notes, singing dramatically, strongly. Really, this is a great tune, and i would love to see Andalusia do this in concert. It sits right there in the list of recent shoegaze classics alongside Cayman by Mira and Pool And The Shine by Bethany Curve.

Sunday Morning is clearly the standout tune, but there are other good songs here. In particular, Shelter features jazzy drumming, supple bass, and light strings in the background for a very nice effect. This is a lovely song, and the hazy guitarwork reminds me of the stuff Robin Guthrie is doing in Violet Indiana these days.

Another standout is Melancholic, which differs from much of the rest of the album in that it is built out of waves and waves of chiming acoustic guitar. The recording in particular here is a bit better than on some of the other songs. The end is very lovely, with Maclay’s voice is placed in many shimmering layers behind the guitar. A beautifully done tune.

Overall, i am impressed, and hope to see more from this band. They certainly know what they are doing. For fans of the shoegaze genre, this is an essential release just for the song Sunday Morning, although there are several enjoyable tunes. People who aren't really into this genre will probably find the slightly murky production to be a hindrance to their enjoyment.

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  Read about Andalusia online.  

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