Dunes – Noctiluca (Used)
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**Used - Sleeve/NM Media/NM**
The L.A. trio Dunes are made up of members of Mika Miko and the Carrots, but there are no traces of the former's all-out attack or the latter's girl group formality. Instead the band mixes up a concoction that is equal parts 2010's reverb pop, neo-psych moodiness and late-'80s college swirl on their debut album Noctiluca. You can hear contemporaries like Dum Dum Girls and old-timers like Throwing Muses in their sound -- you even get a rare Salem 66 feel in the intertwined guitars and vocals. Taking the best of all their influences, the trio comes up with a sound that is pleasingly murky, tangled, and full of melancholy sweetness. The songs are free of clutter but long enough to build some mystery, the guitar and bass mesh together like overgrown foliage, and the drums push things along gently but firmly. Stephanie Chan's vocals wind through the mix like a thick haze; she has a rich voice that occasionally rises above a whisper but is usually content to stay deep and hidden. Thanks to a production job that keeps everything tightly wrapped under a blanket of mid-range, and songs that all fall into the same basic structure, tempo, and dynamic level, the album has a flowing, unbroken feel that allows the songs to flow into each other smoothly, which would be a problem if the band didn't have such a richly hypnotic sound to begin with. As it is, you come out after 40 minutes of listening to Noctiluca with a warm glow of peaceful indie rock satisfaction.