Release Date: Jan 19, 2015
Record label: Captured Tracks
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Edmontonian 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.
In press notes, Alex Calder is often described as a "Mac DeMarco collaborator." It's a dubious way to introduce the singer/songwriter, who did time with DeMarco in the formative band Makeout Videotape, because it immediately and unjustly places him in DeMarco's shadow. True, both artists share a penchant for Tim and Eric-like music videos and unfussy melodicism, but relative to DeMarco's more extroverted persona, Calder possesses a subdued, intentionally vague presence. Throughout his full-length debut, Strange Dreams, his nearly subliminal vocals melt inside the sonic landscape, allowing his personality to dissipate into the album's overall climate.
Alex Calder's debut EP, Time, was a straightforward, if a little weird around the edges, bedroom pop album that showed off the singer/songwriter's easy way with a melody and some nice, snappy songs with sneaky sharp hooks. His first full-length album, Strange Dreams, is a much murkier, far more mysterious affair. Calder lets the weirdness that was creeping around previously seep into every aspect of the album, burying his vocals in murky levels of effects and dialing the fidelity down even more.
Despite the "slacker" tag that follows Alex Calder around, there's nothing lazy about the jangly, acid-tinged tracks on his debut full-length. The songs reveal their layers slowly and showcase the 23-year-old's precise ear for pop ingenuity sans overbearing hooks. Calder addresses the lazy, loner persona many have formed of him. The warbling Out Of My Head builds with manic, Velvet Underground-like fervour as he grapples with his inability to leave his bed.