Artist: Shalloboi
Album: Blue-eyed
Rating: 7/10
Label: Endless December

As far as I can make out Shalloboi is currently composed of Tyler Ritter and Stephanie Goodwin. This archival release claims that Tyler played and sang pretty much everything here, but seeing as it sounds like a girl is singing on each track, either Stephanie contributed something here or Tyler's got one hell of a voice.

Whatever the case, this is some pretty damn engaging homemade music. Taking a lot from the sound of Jessica Bayliff, these songs are heavy in the way that Cure songs sound like ten feet of manacles around your ankles, or like too much Valium on a summer's day when you want to get somewhere and can only drag your feet along the pavement. Lots of droning textures courtesy of bowed guitars and delay pedals, with effected drums, a guest spot of cello and keyboards and loops fill out the sound nicely, leaving a whole that would appeal instantly to fans of My Bloody Valentine and Sigur Ros. On the negative side, though the sluggish pace and twisting long melodies are consistent and make a coherent whole, at 54 minutes it does seem to drag on a bit. A bit more ruthless editing or trimming would have turned this impressive selection of songs into an excellent and highly recommended album. Especially if they ditch the AM radio samples that are already on far too many records made in recent years.

In the meantime, I've reserved it for use on those occasions where sleep eludes me, or for when I can't muster the energy to make myself vertical. Look out for more material in the future from Shalloboi, because they've certainly got some good ideas and sounds nailed down, and I'm sure there's greater goodness to come. More please!- Dave Stockwell

punk planet

Shalloboi - Blue-eyed, CD

This album is filled with atmospheric, lush, droning orchestration, while hushed vocals flow in and out of each song. For the most part, this post-rock creation is good. My one complaint is that songs can unnecessarily drag, but this is still worth checking out. (Missy Paul)

Endless December, 1404 SE 23rd Ave. #3, Portland, OR 97214

SHALLOBOI "Blue Eyed" - Endless December Records (Feb 2005)
The beauty of cheap recording gear and computer studios is that artists like Shalloboi can create shifting, ethereal, saturnine soundscapes without interference. MegaLabel might have forced a more accessible sound, but it's this stubborn adherence to a narrow sound that makes a unique and interesting listen. This Portland, OR artist takes a page or two from the Flying Saucer Attack playbook, and the melancholic raining vocals on "Invisible Against The Sun" echoes Black Tape For A Blue Girl. Shalloboi loves drenching songs in shimmering, undulating reverb that makes you feel the songs are ebbing and flowing like the tides. A blanket of sound decays around you while tiny sparks infiltrate the haze. The first three and the seventh tracks tower with a sustained moment, clocking in at 9, 8, 7 and 12 minutes. The effect of these sounds pealing back in reverb and feedback is almost a warping of time. The songs stretch way, way out and become almost hypnotic. Look out for "Leslie And Tonia" and its hovering notes that are backdrop to a lilting, fragile melody sung in dulcet tones, nestled back in among the melting guitars. It's like what you expect to hear when told that a song is elusive and secretive yet full of elegiac beauty. This song calls to mind the otherwordly grandeur of Sigur Ros, and it's no surprise that Shalloboi also uses a bow to play his guitars. Shalloboi shifts focus on "Burning Star," and strums an acoustic coffehouse poem. His voice works better when washed in guitar feedback, the clean tones of an acoustic isolate his voice too much. On "Colourblind" piano and cello are fed through a My Bloody Valentine shifting machine and come out the other side bent and bowed back into a 3 a.m. dreamy fuzziness. The 12 minute "Blue-eyed" uses found sounds and voice samples all muffled down to where they sound like conversations in another room, with occasional words like "abortion" leaking through. Just read the liner notes, and this fact is spelled out: "contains segments of the tape 'arguments on abortion'..." This song bleeds into the next song, so maybe it's really an 18 minute drifting treatise, which does seem a bit on the excessive side. Still, Shalloboi offers a rain-drenched moodscape with flashes of emotional brilliance. --- Leeds 7/11

indie workshop
adam richards | 02.03.2005

Endless December Recordings
Shalloboi rock the ethereal goo. Awash with distortion, tremolo or whatever-the-fuck from the get go, this seems like a guilty pleasure of excessive shoe-gazing, full of borrowed vibes and ready to fall off of the tracks. The songs definitely borrow rather heavily from countless groups, but this isn't even all that guilty of a pleasure. In part. At times Shalloboi are an American bedroom Sigur Ros of a sorts. Without the funny sounding words. The only thing I am guilty of is playing the first two tracks on this album very loud, downing half a beer real quick, and drifting for a bit. Riffs layer one upon another, all drugged up and otherworldly. Try it with red wine. It works.

And it works on its own. The second or third time I played this album was in my car on a bitter zero degree morning a week or two back. The car was struggling to warm up, my chest hurt and my head ached. Everything was frozen. Work is only two miles away but now I was in the barren, icy plains of the Antarctic, not New York. Two miles was forever. The roads were buried and it seemed like I was the only person outside and awake. The CD player grabbed the disc right away and I was floating before I knew it. I glided and slid all the way to work, like in a dream, and these songs couldn't have been more appropriate for the setting. It was like a strange dream.

The album isn't perfect though. Actually, I'm primarily enamored with the beginning of the album, especially the first two tracks, "Invisible Against the Sun" and "Because is the Reason". Both tracks are deliriously hypnotic and utterly distorted. "Eilsel and Ainot" is almost as good but the momentum drags and then trips a bit with "Burning Star", track four, which is a rather blah acoustic track. The album never really regains the momentum it began with and wanders into melodrama and some emo-ness. By the time the random sound clips of abortion related news clips come in, I'm gone. Not for any political or personal belief related reason, it just doesn't work. In this context, an argument for abortion is no more engaging than an argument against. Luckily it becomes unintelligible at times and basically works as decent texture. The song itself, the title track, has some of the burnt glimmer of the first two songs, but still does not reclaim the loin tingling bliss I feel at the beginning of the album. The sound clips segue into the next song and close out the album. The remaining songs are not strong enough to keep the album interesting. Hopefully there is more of the "good stuff" to come from this group. And maybe a name change. But damn, those first two tracks are raw. (i'm very sorry, but you must scroll down to see it... i know it's hard)

Endless December Recordings
Grade: B-
As initially a demo jaunt, this is now a proper record - recorded over several years - for Portland, OR's Shalloboi. Shalloboi consists largely in part of one Tyler Ritter with help from Billy Speer on periodic cello and digital help from Mike Tuley. As part of the amazing Portland music scene, particularly in reference to the relocated Temporary Residence Ltd. label, Shalloboi focus on ethereal, ambient soundscapes that dance on instrumentals with light vocals by Ritter. And when they are doing this is when they are at their best. When Shalloboi goes to acoustic guitar and out-front vocals as on the series of "Burning Star," "The World Is Waiting" and "Colourblind," they are at their worst. If you throw out those songs, leaving the ambient instrumentals, you are left with an impressive record. For fans of TRL, check out "Invisible Against the Sun," "Because is the Reason" and "Blue-Eyed." With a little more time, Ritter and co. will be on track for greater things.

Shalloboi's songs are sparse and ethereal, dotted with brief explosions of sound. It's haunting stuff, but plodding droner "Invisible Against the Sun", full of rambling lyrics like "I am not so bad / I promised myself not to say anything / I've never been so high", kills the vibe. Tyler Ritter's vocals are barely noticeable most of the time, which allows you to focus on the music -- but Ritter is still singing, even if you've stopped paying attention to him, and eventually you'll get wrapped up in figuring out just what the hell he's trying to say.

That's not the only sticking point. Most of Blue-Eyed's songs hover between the seven- and 12-minute marks, which wouldn't be a problem if they packed enough ideas to last that long. Sadly, they don't -- the pace is too slow, the details too few. Shallowboi are no Mogwai.

The Portland-based band changes its approach on the acoustic "Burning Star" and "The World Is Waiting", pushing the vocals to the forefront. It makes them sound like a completely different band -- but the damage has already been done. Too much of Blue-Eyed sounds overblown and out of date.

-- David A. Cobb