27 Feb 2024

Remember Me? | Join | Recover
Click here to sign in via social networking

Elmo Strauss - Album Review: In My Sleep

08 Dec 2023 // A review by Trevor Faville

Elmo Strauss began writing, recording and producing music in the format he describes as a ‘One Man Band’ since 2021, with the release of debut album Light and Dark. In My Sleep is his latest collection and is a logical follow on from the first album, in terms of the sound and the process.

Strauss feels that this album fits "loosely in the genre of rock", but this is kind of an undersell, really. This album lands squarely in the world of Rock - with a capital 'R'. Musical reference points abound from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and its Strauss’ command of these elements of style that makes In My Sleep a whole lot more than a ‘run through the toyshop’ stylistically speaking.

It's worth dwelling on the influences topic because there is a pervasive sense of reverence and joy that is a common thread through all of these songs. Taken as a whole, this album has the dynamics and the ebb and flow of a live set and by the time you get to Final song Electric Bride, a listener is totally ready for the classic set ‘closer’- and this song absolutely delivers on that. In My Sleep might be characterised best as energetic, enthusiastic, and compelling, sure, but Rock listeners of a certain generation will recognize the genuine sense of catharsis here. ’To be played at maximum volume’ indeed.

For a multi-instrumentalist, In My Sleep could be seen as quite a triumph, frankly. Strauss has a thorough understanding of how to make a track sit together and groove, and the rhythm section work throughout is a delight, notwithstanding the topline parts which are also dispatched with panache. The result sounds like assurance without swagger, which works because swagger would take this into ironic territory, and there is no room for irony here. An example is Cut Him Loose which at 7' 50" is the very definition of the ‘Album Track’. It is placed at the beginning of the final third of the album, just like you would in a live set where the band gets to stretch out, and it really does play that way. This would take some planning from a composition/recording/production perspective and in that respect the vision here is clear and, frankly, really quite clever It's all helped by Strauss being a skilled player on guitar, bass, drums and keyboards, and being possessed of a Rocky/ Bluesy holler of a voice with just the right amount of grit.

When listening to work done by multi-instrumentalists, one might be tempted to listen for the weak spots in the playing, but In My Sleep really doesn't have those. Examples abound- listen to Teacup for some excellent rhythm section work from the bass and drums, Cut Him Loose for the Dave Navarro / Jim Martin riffing on guitar and Beyond The Years for vocals with real soul, humanity and a bit of frailty, too.

While it's easy to get carried away with naming the influences, it's unfair to drop the 'fences of category' onto In My Sleep. You'd be missing the point because these songs are better than that. Elmo Strauss is having a real ‘sum of the parts’ moment with this album. It's delivered with panache, reverence and energy and it uses musical elements that are loved and understood musically. The moments where it all comes together like Teacup, Cut Him Loose and Electric Bride clearly show a blend of ingredients that are well understood, well percolated and indicative of even more interesting things to come.


About Elmo Strauss

Elmo Strauss (Real name, Ben Martens) is a singer/songwriter from Auckland New Zealand. His previous bands include Vessel (NZ) and Props (Austin, TX).
Elmo recorded his debut album Light and Dark at his house during the Covid lockdown.

He is currently a member of Auckland band Billy and the Wolf.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Elmo Strauss


In My Sleep
Year: 2023
Type: Album
Light and Dark
Year: 2021
Type: Album

Other Reviews By Trevor Faville

The Fuzzies - Album Review: Cupid
15 Nov 2023 // by Trevor Faville
The Fuzzies are a three-piece self-described ‘Alternative pop trio’ from Auckland. Collectively Niki Maera (Mary), Kelly Michael (Tabula Rasa, Enshrine) and Andrew Maitai (Powertool Records, Joed Out) bring the momentum of considerable experience into the music on this album.
Claudia Robin Gunn - Album Review: Firefly
02 Oct 2023 // by Trevor Faville
Working in music education gives some insight into what challenging area that Children’s Music can be. The first essential consideration is simply coming to terms with the makeup of the audience, and knowing that children, whanau, and teachers are combined into particularly unique ‘demographic’.
Hummucide - Album Review: Tides
18 Aug 2023 // by Trevor Faville
Hummucide are a well established group of musicians originally based in Wellington (although now working round the world) “Heavy Jazz” is the way they describe their sound, and that's an accurate phrase- and a rather nifty one, too. Tides is the group's first full length album release and it's the result of an extensive and extended process of crafting and refining.
Tone6 - Single Review: Close Your Eyes
05 Jul 2023 // by Trevor Faville
Tone6 are a vocal group from Auckland, consisting of Kirita Leavasa , Selevasio Tu'ima, Peachez Vetenibua, Seletute Tu'ima, Viliami Tupa'i and Shaelyn Togafiti , who began working together when attending Saintzup Performing Arts School. The collective experience and ability of these singers belies their youth, and while Close Your Eyes is just their second release, it's a powerful and assured musical statement.
Yann Le Dorré - Single Review: I Love You
09 Jun 2023 // by Trevor Faville
I Love You is the second solo release from Yann Le Dorre, formally a mainstay in the Poneke-based ‘gutter folk’ outfit Yolk. I Love You a follows a path described by previous release Missed as clear development from the work Le Dorre has done in Yolk- removed is the extra instrumentation in favour of a baritone voice set in a minimalist musical backing.
Ivy - Single Review: Heartless
19 May 2023 // by Trevor Faville
Ivy are easily one of the more sonically ambitious bands that you can hear from Aotearoa New Zealand currently. Heartless is their latest work following on from last year's EP For The Sake of It, where it would not sound at all out of place.
Valley Kids - Single Review: Otherside
10 May 2023 // by Trevor Faville
Poneke based Valley Kids have been drawing a career arc that continues upward from their first release in 2020, and with the support of NZ On Air the four piece have released their third single Otherside. Right from the opening guitar refrain, it's clear what an experienced and cohesive unit this is.
Ivy - EP Review: For The Sake Of It
14 Mar 2023 // by Trevor Faville
Ivy are a band hailing from Dunedin, and For The Sake Of It is a five song collection which expands on their debut release single Stranger, which came out at the end of 2022. As might be expected from a band who adds the words “alternative” and “prog” to their description, Ivy are ambitious musically, and have a very broad reach when it comes to lyrical inspiration.
View All Articles By Trevor Faville

NZ Top 10 Singles

    YG Marley
    Benson Boone
    Noah Kahan
    Teddy Swims
    Jack Harlow
    Taylor Swift
    Tate McRae
    Dua Lipa
View the Full NZ Top 40...
muzic.net.nz Logo
100% New Zealand Music
All content on this website is copyright to muzic.net.nz and other respective rights holders. Redistribution of any material presented here without permission is prohibited.
Report a ProblemReport A Problem