8×8 “Azalea’s Room”

I have a real affection for Lane Steinberg and Alex Khodchenko’s band 8×8. The debut was one of my top ten last year, so I couldn’t wait to immerse myself in the newest album. And while the immediacy isn’t there, the duo still manages to take you on a fantastic musical journey.

After the subtle opening “Ice Wings,” we get the psychedelic title track full of fuzz guitar and eastern rhythmic beats.  Lane slowly reveals the melody in “Laws Of Attraction” in an orchestral flourish, like a combo of Alan Parsons and Jeff Lynne. Another standout is the narrative “I’m A Werewolf, Baby,” with its simple piano melody and shifting chords. Another fast paced gem is “The Tie In” with soaring harmony and I loved the song “Dr. Winkler’s Hands,” a rich tapestry of harpsichord and layered instrumentation.

It ends with a Dylan cover,”Tears of Rage” and it reminded me of Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” with its organ and gospel approach. What makes this LP great is a deliberate attention to each tone and verse, and it will grow on you quickly. Bravo Lane and Alex, we can’t wait for the next one!

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