Gauntlet Hair: Gauntlet Hair

Dead Oceans

Denver's Gauntlet Hair is a band that defies easy comparison. The group's dreamlike, reverb-saturated showgaze tracks are rheumy in the most complimentary sense possible, at times recalling Grizzly Bear or even Band of Horses circa "The Funeral." But whereas those bands tend to prey on public nostalgia for 1970s psyche-folk, Gauntlet Hair is utterly timeless. Full of textural sprawl and breathy, disembodying atmospherics, this self-titled album stands out even in a 2011 crowded with extraordinary eponymous debuts (see James Blake and Cults). "Keep Time" boasts some of the most vicious drums committed to record this year, but it's a tender and devastatingly genial track. So too is the easy-riffing, piano-looping first single "Top Bunk." From the sounds of it, Gauntlet Hair was recorded on fuzzy audio equipment, but to call the aesthetic at work here "lo-fi" would be a gross mischaracterization. These guys weave an amazing sonic tapestry. (4 out of 5 stars)