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Discovering the debut LP from Mad Denizen, Starved, is kinda like putting on Springsteen’s Nebraska for the first time. It’s one of those records that encourages late-night listening, preferably with cigarettes smoldering in the ashtray, whiskey close at hand.
Starved is primarily the work of Michael Charles, an Oakland artist who’s crafted an after-hours LP that, intentional or not, is haunting as all get out (but in a good way). Armed mostly with an acoustic guitar and his voice, Charles tracked the record to tape using a TASCAM 388 reel-to-reel machine. The audio quality of the vinyl is striking in its immediacy and clarity, likely due to the tape medium, attention to detail in the recording process and top-notch mastering/cutting job. We’ve been a bit bummed by the level of quality going into recent vinyl pressings (noisy as hell, lousy pressings, poor fidelity all around), but Starved is a winner for both the listener and even the most discerning audiophile.
Lead single “Invisible City” is (and yeah, we’re using the same descriptive term twice in one review, so sue us!) haunting, like a modern update of Nirvana’s “Polly” (complete with tasteful cello).
We’re digging Starved, as if you couldn’t tell. The tunes are moody and a great Smiths alternative for when you’re feeling mad at the world and just want a comforting record to turn to. Couple that with the high-quality audio experience and killer album art, and this album definitely deserves a spot on your ever-expanding LP shelf.