In DESIGNER, vocalist Stone specializes in warped scream treatments suited to that band’s particular manic style. On AMERICAN GRAFFITI, the latest product of his solo effort FLAG DAY, he instead takes a more gentle and conceptual approach to songcrafting. As the name implies (’American Graffiti’ was a film soaked in 50’s period-nostalgia) there is a hearkening back to classic pop styles that co-existed with the earliest ‘Rock-n-Roll’ forms. Oh there’s still a whole lotta warpin’ goin’ on, with shifted-sample-loop elements, including some from the eponymous film. One of the best examples of this tells it all in the title: ‘James Dean F*ed The Butthole Surfers and Nobody Cares’. Here Stone gently croons falsetto over melded sample and synth-masked guitar, evoking a ghostly reflection of both formal 50’s pop and early 60’s psychedelic styles. Similar effects are achieved on opener ‘Shoulda Walked U Home’ and ‘She Cried’, the latter recalling experiments of LAURIE ANDERSON in its combination of vocal treatment with chimey synthtone and vocal effects.
Despite there being only six tracks, many of them short-ish, this compilation does employ albumcraft, a rare thing in this digital age. The atmosphere of romanticism perfumes the collection and its bedroom production-style suits that intimacy. Two of the tracks depart slightly from the central concept. The first is #2 (always an important track, #2) ‘Vampire Teabags’ uses wah-wah guitar and tells a short funny-sad poem-story of jealousy. It plays a bit like if DESIGNER took a break from delirium to do a ballad (if you can imagine that). It’s the single from this set, and has a modern retro-rock-n-roll aesthetic. The other is outro ‘Goodnight Sweetheart’ which underneath uses film-sample loops but on top sounds straight-up 90’s UK, right up until the the kiss, kiss, kisses of the iconic Wolfman Jack!
Mwah! Enjoy you sock-hoppers and party-poppers!