Dead Gaze: Brain Holiday

BrainHolidayThis past October, the Oxford, Miss. band Dead Gaze released its first studio album, Brain Holiday.  Jackson, Miss. native Cole Furlow is the mastermind behind Dead Gaze, a band that has been churning out homemade acid garage pop in Oxford since 2009.   Furlow struck gold when a friend of his who worked at Oxford’s Sweet Tea Studio was offered eleven days of free studio time, and the friend immediately thought of Furlow.  Sweet Tea Studio is owned and operated by famed producer Dennis Herring, and has attracted the likes of such well-known artists as Animal Collective, Modest Mouse, The Walkmen, and Elvis Costello.  Furlow jumped at the chance to work at such a great studio, and the result was Brain Holiday.

The music of Dead Gaze is sometimes classified as “Lo-Fi Psych Pop,” and while this term adequately describes Furlow’s previously released work, the term does not fully apply to Brain Holiday.  There is a definite “Hi-Fi” quality to this album that is all at once intergalactic, tropical, aquatic and air-like.  Furlow uses “Lo-Fi” tricks, such as a low-end synthesizer and circuit bending, to produce “Hi-Fi” results.  Circuit bending is the customization of circuits in electronic devices to produce unexpected, creative, and chance-based sounds.  Furlow utilizes tools such as reconfigured children’s toys, synthesizers, guitars, wires and amps to produce “Hi Fi”–sounding effects out of this “Lo-Fi” technique.  The result is a much more polished, crystal-clear, definite sound.  Furlow proves himself to have mastered the art of “Lo-Fi” in a “Hi-Fi” world.

Brain Holiday comes out only seven months after the self-titled Dead Gaze, which was released in the U.S. on May 21, 2013.   Dead Gaze was met with critical acclaim, however there were problems with the album that seem to be directly addressed on Brain Holiday, such as the lessening of the compression on the vocals that frankly made Cole’s lyrics on some of the tracks from Dead Gaze indecipherable. Here Furlow delivers vocals that are clear and crisp, becoming more sophisticated not only in style, but also in meaning.  Furlow is obviously going deeper with this album.

The first track, “Yuppies are Flowers”, is a catchy pop song on the surface.  But the lyrics tell a story of youth today trying to deal with the Yuppie generation being the ruling class, and how they have screwed things up for the generations to come.  “Rowdy Jungle” is another pop chart dream, sounding pleasantly like Weezer, but with some Mississippi mud thrown in to grunge things up a bit.

Overall, Brain Holiday is a pop album, but there are some indie-inspired surprises like “Runnin On The Moon” and “Breathing Creatures” which are so unique, they each seem to be creating a genre of their own. The self-titled track, “Brain Holiday” ends the album with poetic perfection because of its carefree sound and message, adequately fulfilling Cole Furlow’s wish for this album:  “I just want people to listen to the jams when they need something to get their brain off whatever it is that’s making them go to the music in the first place.”

Dead Gaze is huge in Great Britain and has just finished a European tour that started November 26, 2013, in Belgium, Brussels—seeing France, Italy, Switzerland, and then back to France for two shows (one in Paris), with the last four shows of the tour ending in the UK—the finale being in London (their biggest draw) at the Windmill.


Brain Holiday is available now on vinyl, cd and MP3 from FatCat Records.