The congenitally collegiate Brooklyn-based indie-pop outfit Aden named its last two albums, Black Cow and Hey 19, after Steely Dan songs. While the idiosyncrasies the band buries within the fussy clean-channel noodling on its new Topsiders probably wouldn't attract the attention of Messrs. Fagen and Becker -- can you imagine anything getting those two really excited? -- they do make for a listen that offers more than the precious insularity in which most congenitally collegiate indie-pop outfits merrily wallow. Or maybe it's just a different insularity: Aden makes a big deal out of the fact that it recorded Topsiders all by itself at singer-guitarist Jeff Gramm's parents' house on Chesapeake Bay, even including in the CD booklet lots of candid photos of the guys lounging around on sleeping bags and smirking at the stuffed game birds Gramm's dad (Texas senator Phil Gramm) has hung on the house's walls. The songs feel like it, too, nosing into weird bridges and banjo solos that made the final cut only because no one was around to eighty-six the idea; the album is like a summer-camp talent show by a gang of grad students with too much recording equipment and too many Felt LPs. But do they ever make a pretty noise. Guitarist Kevin Barker's seemingly endless series of gorgeous glissandos is a perfect match for Gramm's careful oversinging, especially when the supremely superfluous pan flute enters the mix. On second thought, this thing's as precious as your infant's first words; Aden's just really good at it.
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Roger Wood
Contact: Roger Wood