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Century Plaza *
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  • Photographers: Sarah Orr; Nick Elam.
  • Since the early 2000s, Alabama's Dan Sartain has plied his trade in the indie underground, crafting his image as a sort of lo-fi grifter with a noir-ish, Cramps-ian bent. Exuding an aura of danger and charm, his sly mix of punk, garage, and rockabilly has led to big tours with heavy hitters like the White Stripes and the Hives, yet he remains a cult figure at best. Every now and then, he shakes up the formula, stretching out into new territories like lounge, spaghetti western, and even mariachi, but for the most part, he's kept at least one foot in the arena of garage-oriented guitar rock. In 2016, he throws his biggest curveball yet with Century Plaza, an entirely synth-based album that he composed on an iPad. Ironically, his transformation from switchblade guitar slinger to Alan Vega-esque electro-clasher isn't quite as dramatic as you'd think. There were even small hints of this direction in the metallic punk of 2014's Dudesblood. He opens with a creepy, synthetic reworking of his 2003 track, "Walk Among the Cobras," which fares pretty well in its new suit. Paying homage to what seems to be the album's most obvious influence, he offers a cover of Suicide's "Wipeout Beat" and follows it with a nice bit of synth-punk called "Black Party," which has echoes of Devo in its bright clamor. Sonically, Century Plaza is quite thin and brittle with fewer places to hide than in his scuffed-up, guitar-based music. It might be an oddity in his catalog, but he deserves plenty of credit for keeping things interesting. ~ Timothy Monger
Professional Reviews
Clash (magazine) - "Sartain has now managed to retain his love of the Southern Gothic while delivering it with some snarl and some synths."
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