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Album Review

by The Shifting Sands

Fishrider Records

Review Date
26th June 2012
Reviewed by
Ricardo Kerr

The Shifting Sands could hardly be a more appropriate name for a band with such a history. They started life as an outlet for Michael McLeod, formerly of The Alpha State. Over the years and through a series of mutations the band has grown into something much larger and wilder. What was initially intending to be a solo album has spread its tendrils throughout the Dunedin music scene, ensnaring many collaborators and creative minds. With the likes of David Kilgour (The Clean), Robert Scott (The Clean, The Bats), Robbie Yeats (The Verlaines, The Dead C), Rob Falconer (Operation Rolling Thunder), and many more besides on board, Feel is an album that takes the famous legacy of Dunedin music and channels it lovingly into the future.

'Pixies' is exactly the sort of smooth, slinky pop track that people have come to expect of Dunedin and a great way to open the album. Rather than feel compelled to live quietly under these expectations, The Shifting Sands do an excellent job at subverting the tropes and adding some new life to proceedings. Buzzing synthesizers cut through the treacle like knives and sitars stretch out the atmosphere into a vast spacious plane on 'The Kitchen Sink'. There is a kind of restrained joy peaking out through the deadpan veneer of these songs, a fact reflected well throughout the entire record. Sometimes it's a single guitar chord, or a rush of organs, or a glimpse of vocal melody that lets sunlight pour in and fill the room with cheer before receding again. Later on, 'Too Late' is an absolute highlight with McLeod affecting a light David Gilmour-esque tone that transports you straight to the division bell. 'Worth Our While' crashes the party in earnest sounding like a lost relic of alternative rock's golden age resurrected which counterpoints the icy chill of 'Let's Go Down' beautifully…

What you are hearing on this album is not just the expertise of those who are actually playing on it; the talent behind the production desk includes some of our country's best. The likes of Tex Houston (having produced for The 3Ds and The Clean), Thomas Bell (David Kilgour), and McLeod himself work their magic behind the scenes. Between their keen minds, ears, and eager hands Feel maintains a consistent vibe from start to finish, even when darting between staggering heights and sincere lows. What you have at the end of the day is an expertly crafted, loving built, honest kiwi record that can be all things to all people.


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