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The Sunshine Fix



During the brief, mercurial existence of the fabulous Olivia Tremor Control, comparisons were often made between the group's brilliant songwriting duo of Will Cullen Hart and Bill Doss and the Beatles'legendary tandem of Lennon and McCartney -- a natural comparison, perhaps, given the Olivias' Beatlesque penchant for gorgeous pop harmonies and relentless musical innovation. If you wanted to stretch that analogy almost to the breaking point, you could say that Cullen Hart's post-OTC project, the excellent Circulatory System is his Plastic Ono Band, while Doss's new group, The Sunshine Fix, is his Wings. To be sure, it's a silly comparison, but its truth lies in the fact that Cullen Hart brought with him the Olivias' more cerebral, introspective, and experimental side, while Doss took away the group's more soulful, light-hearted, and accessible elements.

The Sunshine Fix first reared its tousled head in 2000 with a Kindercore EP called A Future History of the Sunshine Fix which introduced the group's ultraviolet-heavy sound to the world. While the group's music resembled the Olivia Tremor Control's unique brand of sophisticated experimental pop, Doss elected to keep the heady digressions to a minimum, choosing instead to build layer upon layer of dusty melody and to dabble for the first time in country-rock and light funk.

Doss continued to follow this paradigm on his eagerly awaited full-length debut, Age of the Sun, a glorious hour of warm psychedelia which he put together with the help of numerous likeminded musicians from the Elephant 6 musical collective (of which the Olivia Tremor Control was a founding member), including members of The Four Corners, Of Montreal, The Essex Green, Japancakes, and Hayride, at his Athens-based "World As Myth Sound Factory." The solar imagery of band and album name pervades the record, with more than half of Age of the Sun's 15 songs containing some titular reference to sun or light or summer. Not surprisingly then, the sun-drenched California psych of the late '60s and early '70s -- The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, The Beach Boys, Free Design -- is a major influence on these baroque pop songs. There's a classic Spector-derived "Wall of Sound" effect all the way through, as Doss's preferred approach is to layer heavenly harmonies, multiple fuzzy guitars, wandering bass, light percussion, gentle horns, burbling organs, tinkling pianos and xylophones, and the usual quirky found sounds, one atop the other, to create his lush pop canvases. On some songs, the unapologetically hippie-dippy kaleidescopic meanderings turn gently funky (Doss has cited Curtis Mayfield as a recent inspiration) or drift way out into the stratosphere (in the manner of early Pink Floyd). Age of the Sun infuses the listener with the mellow optimism of a Southern California summer afternoon -- without any need for sunscreen.