July 26th, 2011 | Album reviews

Steven Fiche

Sharif Dumani has been a figure of the Los Angeles underground scene for quite some time, first as the guitarist of L.A. Times (whose unreleased 7” was just pulled from the vaults and released concurrent with this LP) and more recently as the leader of the mid-tempo psych band, the Moon Upstairs, who released one great album and toured with the Silver Apples.  With the Exploding Flowers, Dumani speeds it up and adds in some loud guitars, creating what is most likely my favorite album so far of 2011.  Like most L.A. musicians who frequent the East Side, Dumani’s musical influences are rooted in the past.  Flashes of Big Star and Guided by Voices and are dispersed throughout the record, and the press sticker cites influence from Flying Nun era New Zealand and the Paisley Underground as well.  Its layers of sound also bring to mind some of my favorite “retro” bands of the last decade, mostly the Cuts and the Soundtrack of Our Lives.  In fact, this album reminds me a lot of the Cuts’ final album, From Here on Out, one of my favorite albums ever, though Exploding Flowers is rooted more in 1989 than in 1972.  Two standouts on this LP are “The Gods of Your Evening’s Entertainment,” where Dumani sings of “avocado covered eyeballs” before entering a chorus that has become permanently etched into my subconscious; and “Capturing the New Frontier,” the brief, pulsating, Joy Division-esque closer.

—Daniel Clodfelter