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Odawas - The Aether Eater

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Artist: Odawas

Album: The Aether Eater

Label: Jagjaguwar

Review date: Jul. 20, 2005

Odawas; put the accent on the first and third syllables when you say it. This Indiana-based outfit serves up an appealingly strange blend of eccentricity and accessibility. In concert they’re a guitar-keyboards-drums trio mining the more eccentric side of '70s radio rock. Michael Tapscott’s vocals, guitars, and harmonica will get you thinking of Neil Young, and Isaac Edwards’ keyboard does yeoman’s work generating all the sounds necessary to evoke solo John Lennon, pre-megahits ELO, and Dark Side of the Moon-era Pink Floyd.

Their debut long player is a much stranger kettle of fish. The Aether Eater is a slippery concept album whose narrator is either an astronaut whose hard journey has driven him to nostalgic childhood reverie, or a thoroughly deluded individual lost on a bad, bad trip. Either way, the songs have a hallucinatory quality that’s amplified by arrangements that treat the basic, catchy tunes like hat racks on which to hang all manner of weirdness. Bubbly synths and glassy electronic smears carom through the gaps in “It Smells Like Rain’s” perky toy keyboard melody. Synthetic orchestration towers over Tapscott’s fragile warble on “Benjamin” and “The Golden Fog,” at once insubstantial and massive - is that a skyscraper reaching out to grab me from across the street, or did I just forget to fill my prescription? “The Bones of Pangaea” is a drums and flutes excursion that feels as authentic as the jungle in a Rainforest Café, but it flows directly into a folksy strum called “The Unnamed Sphinx” that feels, despite a lyric full of patently made-up space-travel advise, as real and humble as dust. Odawas definitely are not playing with a full deck, but deal from it, top and bottom, with undeniable skill

By Bill Meyer

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