Published Jan 16, 2015Edmontonian and former Mac DeMarco collaborator Alex Calder's first album, Strange Dreams, extinguishes any parallels that one may try to draw between the two former Makeout Videotape members. In 2014, a year that saw DeMarco become the celebrated prankster of indie music, Calder was hard at work developing the lo-fi, psych-pop material for his debut record. The unique brand of guitar pop plastered across Strange Dreams' 11 tracks is an impressive collage of experimentation, rock and pop influences.
The otherworldly Strange Dreams finds Calder muddling and elucidating sounds, at times audibly akin to a lens going in and out of focus. Wah-wah pedal guitar riffs, modulated synths and relaxed vocals cohere nicely, despite peculiar melodies and sharp guitar tones. Present in the casual, distant sounding vocals is a tangible angst that is revealed through occasionally sardonic songwriting and ominous delivery, as heard on "Out of My Head," on which Calder flatly (and disturbingly) states that "I want to get out my head." "Someone" closes the album with melancholic longing, the underwater surf sound supporting a lonely Calder, who sings, "I need a girl, taking care of me."
Alex Calder's personal imaginings are richly textured and shimmer with a perceptible vibrancy that seem to balance the gloomy with the optimism of an artist waiting to be appreciated. Whether that is especially important to Calder is another thing entirely, but regardless, Strange Dreams is an enviable platform for any musician to vault from. (Captured Tracks)