Natural Habitat

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Valaska, the performing name for the solo effort of frontman Dave Valdez, brings a show-gazer indie effort for his first full-length release. It’s instrument rich (think ukeleles, strings, flutes), which makes the effort hard to drop into a category, but it’s easy to describe: bland. “On The Surface”, the album’s opening track, is bare bones and sounds like what a pop-core band would do when asked to record an acoustic version of one of their songs. Jump over to “In Voids” and, if it weren’t for Valdez’s tone, you’d think you were listening to a track Randy Newman wrote for the next Disney film. The problem with all of it is that it’s just a little too ho-hum. It sways like you would if you were a buoy in the ocean, but if the wind never got over 10 mph. It’s not enough salt and pepper, but it’s certainly not unseasoned. It’s Grant Wood’s American Gothic incarnate. Some more spice would do the record well.



Droning On

The world came to a halt in 2020, but London-based Drones trudged on, giving a voice to the hurt that circulates with (or without) a pandemic: "You shouldn’t underestimate the power of writing things down or literally speaking them out loud, which I’m learning. I’m glad I made these songs, no matter how personal they are."


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