Lowlights - Lowlights

(DRL132: 708527013298)
Release date: 03/03/2003
Genre: Rock, Country

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1. In the Distance, 2. Wave Goodbye, 3. Dim Stars, 4. Brown Eyes, 5. Restless and Young, 6. Gare Du Nord, 7. Lost And Alone, 8. Travelogue, 9. Wheelbarrow, 10. Too Late, 11. Flowers (in Her Hair., 12. How Does It Feel?

From the Redwood forests of Humbolt County, CA. Imagine The Church (Starfish era) and/or Spiritualized as a country-rock band, with a western American Steve Kilby vocalist. This is painter/singer/songwriter Dameon Lee's first solo record since graduating from punk rock bands, a few of which you know by name. Dustin Reske (Rocketship) produced at his Manila, CA studio and collaborated playing guitar, keys, backing vocals and even some trumpet. The mysterious local old timer hired to play mandolin and pedal steel is rumored to have played with the Dead.

On the band's debut self-titled album, Lowlights plays a very laid-back psychedelic country-rock. You could lump them in with Beachwood Sparks (without the twee vocals) or the Tyde (but with songs). Or you could compare them to the Church as the band's own label does, since they share the same gloomy atmospheric sensibility and deadpan vocals. Or you could compare them to an unpretentious Spiritualized, since they both deal in a layered, dense wall of sound. If you want, you could even trace the band back to Gram Parsons or Lee Hazlewood, the country mavericks who expanded the genre back in the late '60s. Best of all, you could forget all the comparisons and just enjoy the record. Dameon Lee and co-producer and visionary Dustin Reske (of indie pop faves Rocketship) have crafted a beautifully melancholy album full of sad pedal steel that echoes like a bad memory, sweet harmony vocals courtesy of the angelic Angela Brown, acres of layered strummed guitars, and Lee's slightly gravelly mournful lead vocals. Reske and Lee arrange the record like two studio magicians, making each song sound different but similar, like pieces from the same haunting jigsaw puzzle. The individual songs don't stand out from one another; they are all excellent, and from beginning to end the record is unified by sweet, reverbed melancholy. So many bands that tread the same lonely footsteps as Lowlights fail for one reason or another (weak vocals, boring songs, clichéd arrangements), but Lowlights avoids all the pitfalls and has released a stunning debut. One of the best, saddest records from 2003 that you are liable to hear. - Tim Sendra, AMG

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