Dream All Over, Olympia-bred Gun Outfit’s 4th album, came out October last year, but I thought it was worth a revisit seeing as they tour the UK next month. I have had this album for months on the work computer, but only really embraced it over the Christmas break, the subtly rambling record becoming a staple of early morning hazed malaise (it was a gooood holiday). Which I didn’t expect. I expected to like it, but because of what Gun Outfit was – their last three records more burnished, burnt, bent out of shape, a delightful cacophonous mess of post-punk malapropisms (especially Possession Sound).
Dream All Over follows a rebirth not that dissimilar to The War On Drugs or The Men – although neither wasted garage psych or bristling hardcore, all three bands found their equilibrium in blues-inflected hues, finding space and hushed tones a freedom rather than stifling inertia. For the uninitiated – Dream All Over isn’t a gear change more than a total overhaul. There is the spectre of Low hovering over the sparse, balalaika-infused ‘Angelino’, sung with haunting elegy by Carrie Keith (her touches throughout the album are always stunning); the Yo La Tengo breeze blowing through ‘Blue Hour’ and ‘Legends Of My Own’; Neil Young in a cracked, silent bathysphere on ‘Came To Be’; a Jason Molina-meets-Conor Oberst-meets-Lee Ranaldo manicured desert shambolism in ‘In Orbit’. ‘Matters To A Head’ has a rustic, flannel-in-the-Appalachians undercurrent, imparted through both Dylan Sharp’s slightly more curled vocals and humble yet bruised lyrics.
There is a measured, assured elegance that permeates every track here – although nothing approaches fever pitch, the seams of warm pastoral riches more than makes up for it. I can imagine these songs scoring a night under the stars in the desert; driving into the sunset through the desert; the sun tipping its head as it pierces the desert horizon…
OK so I am leaning heavily on that well-worn “desert” descriptor. But it is so apt here, as is one description I read of it being “canyon-cult blues”. Again, the shift to LA seems to have had a profound effect on Gun Outfit. To be honest, the new direction fits like a glove. Dream All Over works best on the periphery of reality, of consciousness, in locales and dimensions that are slightly skewed and wild. This echoes with the ghosts of Laurel Canyon and the Mansons killing the Age of Aquarius, Neil Young steering the ship, the consummate folklore punk. Dream All Over sounds like a reimagining; Gun Outfit are on the beach, in the sun, burnishing with wry chagrin that belies a ramshackle energy. You really should get this record (out through Paradise of Bachelors here). Gun outfit play The Lexington Friday February 12 - see you there.