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Dwayne Sodahberk
(Tigerbeat6 Records)

Dwayne Sodahberk has had an incredibly busy past year and a half or so. After throwing his hat into the ring with his full-length debut Don't Want To Know You, he struck quickly with another EP and now another full release. Perhaps even more interesting is the stylistic jump that he's taken from his first release to this one, going from crunched-up instrumental electronic music to what is basically laptop rock. While his first disc had one track with vocals (which was probably the worst track on the disc), Unfortunately finds him in full-on song mode, and it seems that he's gotten much better at what he does.

Truth be told, there's still plenty of chunky beats and feedback on this 16 track effort, but the whole feel of the work has changed with the introduction of vocals. Not nearly as many of the songs are playful, and while the album is definitely not a drag in any way, it mines slightly less upbeat territory than his debut. The disc opens with the album-titled track of "Unfortunately" and sets off on the right food with warm vocals by Maria Kihlberg over hollowed-out beats and minimal synth melodies. "No Fun" follows up with a stutter-stepped rhythm and more squirty blasts of noise while Sodahberk himself adds some downcast vocals that work quite well.

Even though the vocals are 'sung' by a Commodore 64, one of the best tracks on the disc is "On The Way Down," a track that builds slowly with a soft melody while beats reconstruct themselves before slamming home. Sure, we've all heard the grainy computer voice before, but juxtaposed with the gentle melody and sudden sharp bursts of huge beats, it's one of the most banging tracks on the disc. The rest of the disc is a somewhat mixed-bag of styles, but everything works together pretty well for the most part. "Afternoon Shape" feels like a narcotic-induced slow-core track while "Bird" bumps things up into a much more poppy territory, closing out with a cranked-up drum section that will get just about anyone off.

Not only does the album make huge leaps in terms of songwriting, but sonically as well. Sodahberk plays no less than 20 different instruments on the release (including a huge variety of electronic machines), and the result is a release that breathes with much more vitality than his debut. He still has a tendency to pour on the feedback sometimes rather than add a different wrinkle, but overall the album is many steps beyond his previous work. That said, if you really enjoyed his other work, this one might throw you for a loop (especially since about half the disc is guitar-based), but those looking for some interesting electronic/rock crossover should definitely check it out.

Rating: 7.5