8.8

Chad VanGaalen: Soft Airplane

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Chad VanGaalen: <i>Soft Airplane</i>

Songwriter continues to finely hone his unique, affecting DIY styleFrom Stevie Wonder and Todd Rundgren to Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, self-sufficiency in recording—being your own one-man band—has served as more than just a badge of honor.It's also a disarmingly simple way to maintain consistency over the course of multiple albums, if not a career.&nbsp;On Soft Airplane, bedroom/basement-recording aficionado Chad VanGaalen still plays nearly every instrument in the mix, as he did on previous LPs Infiniheart&nbsp; and Skelliconnection, but something's changed. Where earlier albums could seem scattershot, with tracks independently culled from hundreds of stockpiled songs, Soft Airplane is concise and fully-realized.

And speaking of VanGaalen's countrymen, the surprisingly sweet "Inside the Molecules" finds Mr. VanG nestling a physics-nerd love poem inside some crunchy, nourishing riffs that could make Neil Young crack a smile, even at his most cantankerous. Much like the basement, Soft Airplane is a little scary (and dark and dank), yet filled with untold creative surprises and delights.