Sam Buck Rosen: Dominant Mind
When Brooklyn-via-Newburyport, Mass.'s SAM BUCK ROSEN describes his brand of pop recordings as "avant-reggae" or "tropical grunge," it's easy to write him off as being cheeky or cavalier. But damned if his Dominant Mind LP isn't stuffed to the gills with clever incorporations of David Byrne's world music excursions, the first-thought-best-thought dance-pop experiments of Arthur Russell and the playful grooves of The Upsetters. Each ecstatic track is pushed along by Rosen's cock-sure voice, that of a man twice the 21-year-old's age and maybe the best adaptation of Elvis' croon since Chris Isaac (or Roy Orbison?). While Dominant Mind is essentially a collection of Rosen's best work over the last two years — recorded in a haunted house in the woods of Vermont and in a practice space at Bard College — many of the songs share the same inspiration: a small self-help book about taking control of one's mind that Rosen found sitting in the garbage. Note song titles such as "Freedom from Domination" and "Don't Let Your Clothes Wear You," each with minimalist lyrics that play as part word collage, part puzzle, part personal revelation. From "Freedom From Domination": "And I take personal issue/With vicious and feeble/Trying to wreck your own pretty is evil/And I lump you in with children and impertinent people."