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Friday, September 25, 2009

Review: Car Stereo Wars - For Your Comfort And Safety

Car Stereo Wars - For Your Comfort And Safety
2008, Greg Records

Car Stereo Wars started out as a college trio in their native Australia, playing primarily Chillout/Pop, even landing songs one two different Ministry Of Sound compilations. Over time Car Stereo Wars sought a broader creative palette from which to create, mixing Trip-Hop and Electronica into their tasty Folk/Rock hybrid. It's done well for them thus far, with songs placed in commercials for Dell Computers and Tic Tac Chill. Their latest creative effort, For Your Comfort And Safety contains eleven songs of down-tempo, celestial rock featuring the entrancing vocals of Alyssa Doe and the occasionally Americana-colored guitar work of Matt Gilman.

Car Stereo Wars kicks things off with Smooth, a lush, layered, hypnotic pop song that brings to mind some of Sarah McLachlan's arrangements circa Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. Alyssa Doe's voice is velvety smooth with an earthy timber, not so much soaring above the music as becoming an integral part of it. Broken runs like a commentary; like personal thoughts about the day’s events from a vantage point perhaps no one has. The song is pleasantly fantastical, almost as if sung by a benevolent peeping Tom. Come To Nothing gets a little more heavily into gilded Electronica. Doe manages to keep some dynamic range in spite of the increasingly claustrophobic arrangement. Alone is a lush lover's dream, casting off the world to revel in the magic of love. The arrangement is pleasing without making a lasting impression.

My personal favorite track on the disc is Low Rise, a down-tempo yet catchy Electronic Pop tune. The chorus in particular will stick in your mind well after the song is done. Down is presented in a lush and variable arrangement that rests heavily on Trip-Hop and Jazz. It's one of the more intriguing compositions on the disc and one that would be most enjoyable to hear stripped down to simple acoustic instrumentation. Little Alarm is a brief interlude down in the style of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells and leads into the closing track, For Your Comfort And Safety. This is a song that sounds like it wants to be a country tune but doesn't have the heart to commit. The arrangement is more organic than anything else on the album, relying primarily on acoustic guitar and voice. The setting fits Doe's voice very well, and sonically this is the most pleasing song on the disc.

Car Stereo Wars play in a slightly different genre, but have the same laid back aesthetic of The Cowboy Junkies. For Your Comfort And Safety is aptly titled; it's a very pleasant listen with some strong moments, but never really takes any risks along the way. Nevertheless, the songwriting and musicianship are good enough to escape mediocrity, and Alyssa Doe is a joy to listen to. In the end, it's a bit more repressed than I'd hoped for, but still a strong effort.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Car Stereo Wars at or, where you can purchase a copy of For Your Comfort And Safety using PayPal. You can also purchase the album digitally through iTunes.

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