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Two Way Player
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  • Audio Mixer: Mike Kutchman.
  • Appearing just five months after Gun Outfit's acclaimed fourth album, this exploratory EP deepens the band's relationship with their adopted Southern California landscape. The move from Olympia to L.A. that inspired the dusty psychedelic odes of 2015's Dream All Over seems to have a continuing effect on co-leaders Dylan Sharp and Carrie Keith as they delve even further into their hazy Western dream. Recorded in New York in the summer of 2015, Two Way Player features an alternate lineup than that of their last full-length. Supporting Sharp and Keith's strange dueling guitars are guitarist Joe Denardo (Growing/Ornament), bassist Dave Harris (Milk Music), electric pianist Will Lawrence, and longtime drummer Daniel Swire. Even more so than on its predecessor, the music on this EP is deep and expansive with a pulse that rarely quickens. The buzzing sitar-like tone of a deeply reverbed guitar introduces the opener "Expansion Pact," whose very name sounds like a doctrine. Sharp's drowsy, conversational vocals are ghosted by Keith's in loose, billowing harmonies as they drift across the scenes. At only 1:40, "Make Me Promise" is the briefest of the five tracks, but its astral riffing and widely spaced vocal stack make it one of the most striking pieces here. As Keith takes over lead vocal duties for the final three tracks, the pace trickles even slower with the dark-hued "King of Hearts" and "Drive Off" ushering in a somber mood that hangs a bit too heavy given the length of the release. The lengthy closer "Our Time" stretches with a wavering elasticity, its drones building in momentum before easing back on the throttle. As a whole, Two Way Player comes across as a deliberate mood piece with a collaborative spirit that is, for the most part, successful. It also helps to cement the Gun Outfit's reinvention from skuzzy post-punk purveyors to desert highway surrealists. ~ Timothy Monger
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