About two years after releasing his first solo record on El Recordo Records, Joel R.L. Phelps (formerly of Silkworm) has given us two very impressive recordings. The first is a five song EP including covers of Dramarama's "Emerald City" and "Guns of Brixton" by the Clash. Both are appropriately adapted to Phelps's dramatic style which veritably exposes his 'artiness'. The EP and the full length are full of sparse, somewhat somber songs with alluring arrangements including saxophones, pedal steel, organ, and stand-up bass. There seems not to be a wasted note anywhere as the melodies and arrangements are very well thought out. The EP was recorded in Seattle by Troy Glessner. The sound is very clean and natural letting the music stand on it's own. The well rounded, warm tone of the stand-up bass sounds especially impressive. Steve Albini recorded the full length which not surprisingly is approached with the same hands- off philosophy. It couldn't possibly sound much better as the voice and the instruments sound purely like themselves. (Pacifico) 

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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