Doubledog-55
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Doubledog-55

Frisco, Texas, United States

Frisco, Texas, United States
Rock Fusion

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"Album Review by Renown Music Critic Alex Henderson"

Doubledog-55 is the project of Texas-based musician Alex J. Nestor, whose album Astroturfing, is perhaps best described as “electronica with trip-hop leanings and elements of jazz, funk and lounge music.” Astroturfing, like a lot of electronica, does not follow a standard verse/chorus/verse/chorus song structure, but unlike some of the more extreme types of electronica, Nestor is not going for brutal sensory assault or radical dissonance. Astroturfing is quirky and eccentric, but it is also fairly musical and melodic. While some electronica can be harsh and abrasive (especially techno), Astroturfing is not like that. Nestor’s electronica has melodic appeal and harmonic appeal and is not an example of having a beat just for the sake of having a beat.

Nestor is very much in the driver’s seat on this intriguing release. In addition to writing all the material and producing the album, Nestor programmed all the instrumentation by himself. And he has delivered what is essentially an instrumental album with scattered samples and soundbites here and there. Many of the soundbites that Nestor chooses are political in nature; “Wingnut Farmers,” for example, contains a sample from President Herbert Hoover’s speech at the Republican National Convention in August 1932 (of course, Hoover was voted out of office that year and was absolutely crushed by Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the general election). And President George W. Bush’s state of the union speech from 2003 is sampled on “Horse and Rabbit Stew.” Many of the song titles on this album have political connotations, including “Darwin’s Tea Party,” “Vote Rental” and “Banksters and Oilmen.” Plus, the album’s title has a political connotation; the term “astroturfing” refers to the deceptive practice of trying to make political activity or political discourse appear to be organic and grass roots when, in fact, it is far from genuinely organic or grass roots.

Exactly what type of political message Nestor is trying to convey is unclear. Nestor’s uses soundbites in a cryptic fashion, and he doesn’t beat listeners over the head with a particular point of view. Nestor appears to be making fun of Republicans, but then, listeners can decide for themselves exactly what it is that he is trying to convey or get across. He definitely leaves some wiggle room as far as letting listeners figure out where he is coming from politically. But what we can say for sure is that the way Nestor employs jazz and lounge elements on Astroturfing is a plus.

Nestor has played jazz as a bassist, and his electronica is especially jazz-influenced on “Little Punk Staffers” (which hints at 1970s jazz-rock fusion, minus all the electric guitar), “Vote Rental,” “Thanes of Grover” and “Gatsby Curve.” On “Broccoli Logic,” Nestor hints at Afro-Cuban jazz. None of those tunes pretend to be jazz in the strict sense; true jazz is played and improvised rather than programmed, and Astroturfing is very reliant on technology. But Nestor reminds listeners that the use of jazz overtones in an electronica-oriented environment can be appealing.

Astroturfing is not Nestor’s first recording as Doubledog-55; his previous releases included three full-length albums (Nuclear Lawnmower and Subatomic Birdlime in 2010, Fox Salt in 2011) and an EP (2010’s Quantum Fizz). And for those who have listened to some of his previous work, it is clear that Astroturfing doesn’t make him any less odd or eccentric. But Nestor is a talented eccentric, and Astroturfing is an inviting example of the ways in which jazz, funk and lounge music can influence electronica with positive results.

Doubledog-55
Astroturfing
Review by Alex Henderson
3.5 stars (out of 5) - see amazon.com


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Doubledog-55 is the moniker for Texas musician Alex Nestor, who utilizes MIDI technology and his ability to play multiple instruments to create wholly synthetic music. The former Army band member, who once played bass in a jazz combo with his father, abandoned music for many years before discovering the wide open world of MIDI, which rejuvenated his will to make music. The result of his personal renaissance is Doubledog-55, a project as musically indescribable as any you’ll ever hear.

-Bryan Rodgers,
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