If you’re looking for something that’s a little more substantial and a little less ephemeral for your autumn drives, than look no further than Convalescing in Braille. I first became aware of Todd Gautreau through his Tear Ceremony project. But whereas Tear Ceremony delved into cinematic ambience, Crushed Stars opts for a relatively more pop-oriented sound. Of course, “relatively” is the operative word there. It’s still plenty atmospheric, recalling at times The Sundays, the sadly unknown Best Boy Electric, and even a really mellow Sonic Youth.
It’s nothing flashy or showy — indeed, Convalescing in Braille might be the most unassuming album I’ve listened to in quite some time — and it’s tempting to dismiss the album at first as simplistic. But Gautreau’s melodies, as simple as they may seem at first, find a way of slowly but surely winding their way into your mind, and his arrangements and atmospherics add just the right amount of tonal color in just the right spots. Then there’s Gautreau’s voice, which falls somewhere between a sleepy Jason Martin (Starflyer 59) and a really sleepy Tom Waits, which adds a nice balance of wooziness and roughness to the songs.
I’ve mostly listened to this album on long drives, and when the afternoon sun illuminates the empty cornfields and colorful trees as it only can in the Nebraska countryside, well… Convalescing in Braille makes for a pretty nice soundtrack for such scenery.
More info can be found on the Crushed Stars website.