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The Squires of the Subterrain - Strawberries on Sunday - 2003

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Code - OD-K-67731

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The mutually beneficial partnership between cult psychedelic legend "Big Boy Pete" Miller and four-track, day-glow eccentric-off-the-old-block Chris Earl continued apace on the pair's second full-length collaboration, Strawberries on Sunday, with Earl holding down the performing side and Miller sitting in the producer's seat. This time around, too, the Squires of the Subterrain supply all the songs. This is recognizable most often when the sonic touchstones step outside the '60s and wander into the post-Sgt. Pepper era. "Sweet," for instance, electrifyingly updates choogling, glitter-eyed '70s power pop and glam rock. "Minutes Before the Destruction," "Ferret Girl," and "Marisol," too, are built from layers of overdriven synthesizer washes or dirty fuzz guitar that could put hair on your chest (or both), yet they never lose the melodic dazzle that makes all the greatest Squires tunes snap and crackle. Think a Bay City Rollers or ELO without the kitsch or criminally negligent hairdos. Still, on the whole, Earl can't help but see the world through kaleidoscope eyes, and Strawberries on Sunday is the most sophisticated and all-encompassing presentation of this aspect of his vision yet, with amazingly vibrant tracks like "Kitty Cologne," "Air-Guitar," and "4-Leaf Clover Girl." Miller, certainly, deserves a lot of credit for finally coaxing Earl's music out of the sometimes smothering insularity of the basement. For those not yet familiar with the swirling, alternate Top 40 universe of the Squires of the Subterrain, this album, coupled with the sensational compilation Pop in a CD, is the ideal place to tune in and turn on to Earl's unique variety of mind warp. For those who are already fans, this is yet more sweet, bubblegum-flavored goodness, but even more it is the most lucid, perfectly distilled, and fully actualized effort of his career.-AMG

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