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Unusual title. Strange artwork — foliage sprouting from several depictions of a naked figure wearing an expression of shock, pain, or bemusement. A pleasant, elementary riff ("Peace on the Rise") repeats for two minutes, prompting the idea, I should pick up my guitar — I could come up with this! before blossoming into a reverie embellished by minimal electronics (Uh, don't know if I could do this.) Thus is VanGaalen's stealthy wizardry. The Calgary-based musician and producer is engaging enough for you to respond, "Sure," when he invites you to share a bowl, but moody enough for you to grab a seat near the door. An hour later, you're jamming along with the irresistible hooks of "Burning Photographs" and "Replace Me" as a police car rolls up in response to the racket.

An album about environmental devolution (all those plastic diapers) doesn't sound inviting. Unable to ignore the issue, VanGaalen's repurposed songs from a garage-rock set he didn't finish into a Zoloft alternative for sensitive souls. While Diaper Island's second half loses the cohesion that would characterize a "best of the year" contender, the album's creativity and beauty elicit the thought.

  • Album: Diaper Island (2011)
  • Artist: Chad VanGaalen
  • Label: Sub Pop
  • Songs: (1) Do Not Fear (2) Peace on the Rise (3) Burning Photographs (4) Heavy Stones (5) Sara (6) Replace Me (7) Blonde Hash (8) Freedom for a Policeman (9) Can You Believe It!? (10) Wandering Spirits (11) No Panic/No Heat (12) Shave My Pussy
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