Agouti – Nodes
Agouti Node is a dream pop stroll through indie, alternative and psychedelic rock. The band is fronted by producer and songwriter Carmen Caruso on lead vocals and bass. The vocals are forefront with layered rock and indie styled vocals that come through with clarity and strength. The arrangements are psychedelic with swirling synth, layered vocal harmonies, overdriven guitar lines and steady driving bass and drums. The sound balances psychedelic rock with pop sensibilities for a charming album with wonderful arrangements and catchy songs.
Agouti is from San Francisco, California and is the project of Carmen Caruso. Agouti is inspired by the 60s and 70s psych rock with modern pop influences. The first single from the album was released in 2016 titled, ‘Summertime’ followed by ‘Chameleon’ in 2017. Agouti’s Nodes was released in May of 2019 and is now available on green vinyl through Agouti’s website.
The psychedelic rock factor is present in each track with spaced out synth, sustained reverbs, echos and a lysergic sound. The shifting filters and effects on the instruments give the background accompaniment a melting and breathing movement that feels like the perceptual illusions of the psychedelic experience. The ethereal production is enhanced by the vocal phrasing and reverberations that stretch into space. The unique EQ shifting throughout the album also plays tricks on the ears drawing the instrumentation in and out of sonic awareness.
‘Chameleon’ is the first single from the album and is a dreamy song with cosmic soaring synth, organs and a pop vocal melody. The song mixes the synth pop with 1990s alternative melodies for a sound that is both nostalgic and innovative. The guitar is drenched in shimmering reverb that blends wonderfully with the driving synth lines. The chorus is memorable and repeats in my head long after the album has stopped spinning.
“If I were a chameleon
I’d shift my skin inside
I’d sink into the drywall
And watch the world go by”
Nodes is driven by the bass and synth which together develop the primary instrumental arrangements for the album. There are clear influences from 70s progressive psychedelic rock movement and contemporary synth pop. The guitarist Dakota Salazar lays down excellent guitar lines to enhance the vibe of the album. The guitar is most impressive on the performance in the song ‘The Point”.
The lyrical content of the album is introspective and dreamy. Poetic descriptions of life and the city environment are sprinkled throughout the songs. Equally important is the use of natural imagery including summertime, mountains, and rivers. The emotional content in the lyrics comes forward amidst the lyrical descriptions. A longing and forlorn reflection on the past and the progress of relationships also stretches across the music. The overall effect is poetic with Carmen Caruso’s wonderful voice and her ability to transmit an effective feeling through each song.
Nodes is a great psychedelic pop album that can appeal to fans of indie and alternative rock. The dreamy California sound is inspired by the psychedelic rock music of the 1960 and the progressive rock of the 1970s. These historical references give the music dynamic character when combined with the contemporary synth pop influences. The vocal performance on “The Comeback” is an ideal example of the 1960’s San Francisco psychedelic rock sound with empowered female vocal lead that is right out of the playbook of Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane.