Leo Kellogg aka BigTreeBlueLake is an eighteen-year-old dude from Minnesota who has been making music for about a year. His first attempt is entitled Confidential Forces. Let's put a couple things in context first. I think it takes about ten years to become good at just about any skill. For example I started writing music at the age at fourteen and wasn’t till my early 30’s that potential was starting to come through. All things considered Kellogg is off to a good start given the fact he has so little time under his belt and for what I understand very little knowledge about recording.
Kellogg says on his Bandcamp page his music is guitar pop. I can’t say I agree with the label. I think of artists like John Mayer or Jack Johnson when you say the words guitar pop. This music doesn’t sound anywhere close to that. His music has more in common with an artist like Youth Lagoon. The music on Confidential Forces felt more vocal based and the guitar was rarely the focal point of the song.
His music is lo-fi, sometimes psychedelic and has a dreamy, hazy quality to it. He opens with “Books” and has shoegaze type aesthetics. The recording is so lo-fi at times it almost works as an ambient piece. I enjoyed the white noise groove. When it comes to his vocals you can't understand a word. If his goal was for you to understand the lyrics he failed; if his goal was to have his vocals as just another element he succeeds. The groove runs its course and Kellogg never introduces any significant changes.
“Snowballs” is another solid effort. The vibe is somewhere between Deerhunter and Youth Lagoon. Around the mid-way point he finds some of his best moments. The vocal melody is catchy and eventually just fades away.
His vocals are a little more prominent on “Broken Speedometer.” That being said his lyrics are so distorted, lo-fi and in the distant you still can’t make out what he is saying. There are some decent vocal harmonies from an eclectic mix of sounds. This is a creative song overall and I enjoyed the textures and tones he brings to the table.
“Til' You Know” has the most prominent vocal melodies. His vocals sit well in the mix here and he repeats the melody and it becomes a mantra. It’s quite hypnotic. He closes with “Plateaus” which sounds like a deflated ’50s pop song. I mean that as a compliment.
Kellogg really does have some talent but I can promise you that if he keeps his focus on writing this recording will be his humble beginnings. With only a year under his belt I was more than impressed. I’d encourage him not only to keep writing but also to become more proficient as an engineer and producer.
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