The Burlap Shuffle is sort of like your least favorite vodka. After a few forced listens it's kind of good, though too much and you'll vomit in your mouth and never want to hear it again.
Mike Gillis, a.k.a. Mural Gleeous, has constructed an album that perfectly balances everything I love and hate about indie music, crammed into seven songs that blend into aural goo. "Brooke Blanco, Heartbreak Skin," for example, incorporates catchy electric guitar upbeats and a stream of cymbal crashes until everything awkward halts and trips over itself. A classic example of making something weird cause you can, I presume.
Which is totally true -- you can. But you could also make something playful and experimental, and hold off on the stuff that's inevitably going to make people upload your CD to iTunes and forget about it.
"Indican Blue Wolf," the album's opener, tip-toes on the edge of crazy good and crazy bad. Mixing the elements of The Shins when they were good with Sufjan Stevens when he was bad, the music is a bit repetitive and the transitions a bit painful.
But, everything is soft and sort of pleasant and if you peel away the layers, really kind of good. Which makes me mad all over again, because I don't like the musical tug of war: "I'm a talented musician with a unique take on songwriting. I'm also really artsy. One of these things is going to get in the way of the other."
As a whole, it's obvious Gillis is a truly talented artist. Really. The Burlap Shuffle has specks of talent that blow away much of the experimental indie I've heard in a long while, but as a whole I can't help but think I'll never, ever listen to this CD again. Putting an awkward harmony in a spot that you know is awkward just to make me feel awkward is a terrible thing and I hate you.