Gus Englehorn: Dungeon Master [Album Review]

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Gus Englehorn
Dungeon Master
Secret City Records [2022]

The Fire Note headphone approved

Montreal singer-songwriter Gus Englehorn’s sophomore record, Dungeon Master, may be one of the most unique listens you put to your ear this year. The album was written in a cabin but it sounds much bigger with its frequent rock out moments from Englehorn’s guitar mashing with his drummer and wife, Estée Preda. The energy is real but everything about the record in the beginning may have you really questioning my rating but I beg you to give Gus a chance. He has a higher pitched voice which takes some warming up to but then the harmonies blanket you in Dungeon Master and the record will strike your indie spine like lightning hits a metal rod.

Opening track “The Gate,” is your first introduction to Englehorn’s laid back and free playing narrative approach with his spoken singing voice as midway he declares “laughing,” which is followed by some sinister sounding “ha, ha, ha, ha,” before the track completely shifts its tempo into a more serious tone and Gus shows off his singing abilities. It is a very cool transition within the song that reminds me of a classic Pixies move that Frank Black perfected. “Ups And Downs” turns things upside down with his lead vocals charging ahead before its driving guitar and drum rock takes over as the song has a very Dead Milkmen vibe and it’s great. “Sunset Strip” is a highlight track that has a slacker rock beginning with a more energetic Mac DeMarco type drive. The song then switches at about the 2 minute mark as it hits hard with a big hooky sing along chorus, “On The Sunset Strip,” that you won’t be able to get out of your head.

Dungeon Master is an album that needs repeat spins to absorb its greatness. The lyrics at times have a humorous tone and will make you smile like on “Run Rabbit Run,” when Englehorn quickly spews “You’re spinning the vinnen the vilen the vinnen the vinnen the vilen the violin” followed by “If you’re willing I’m willing the worm is a-wriggling the catfish will bite alright.” He delivers this without a break as its chorus just takes over and sucks you into another memorable track. Dungeon Master is fun, catchy, weirdly intense and overall just a great listen. It is an album that you had no idea would be this good but you will not want to take it out of the playlist after one spin!

“The Gate” / “Sunset Strip” / “Tarantula”

The Dead Milkmen / Daniel Johnston / Mac DeMarco

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Thomas Wilde
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