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Homebrew

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Singer/guitarist Russell Baggett's voice is an acquired taste, occupying a space between the rasp of Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous and the breathy dispassion of Grandaddy's Jason Lytle. His laconic delivery is the calm eye in the center of the Guests' dynamic musical universe. Though touchstones abound from the Beach Boys-ish harmonies that open "Postmarked" to the grey, moody Radiohead rock of "I Can't Keep You," they've a predilection toward "acid folk" and its antecedents. The churning, dramatic "Flashlight" with its echoes of Final Cut Floyd, the blooming pysch pop of the Lips-biting "Postmarked," and the spacey, '60s raga rock of the title track all turn on sumptuous, droning sonics whose expansiveness mimics the mind-opening effects of psychedelics. This is where Baggett's muted, understated vocal style comes in handy, offering ballast, an island within the shifting sonic landscape upon which to grab hold. Soon you find yourself reaching out to him, as the milk chocolatey riffs swell and wash over you, enveloping your mind and just short of drowning you in their steady, hypnotic pulse, like a musical undertow. Thus, an often pretty album's intriguing musicianship is undermined by the grip of its pervasive groove.

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