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Ethan Gold Ethan Gold
Album: Songs From A Toxic Apartment
Label: Gold
Tracks: 13

San Francisco native Ethan Gold's debut album finally gets a European release five years after it was first birthed across the Atlantic. Gold's backstory has its share of troubles. His parents were novelist Herbert Gold and Melissa, who died in the helicopter crash that claimed rock promoter Bill Graham. Then Ethan suffered a freak accident in a warehouse, sustaining a head injury that left him without the ability to speak. Music was his escape, and with his follow up album Earth City due for release in 2018, we finally get the chance to listen to his debut.

The album title comes from the apartment that did it's best to kill Gold, before it was deemed to be uninhabitable. Given that, and the album title, this isn't exactly a cheery experience, and darkness seeps from every pore. It's no surprise to hear that this album was recorded in its entirety in Gold's apartment, though not the one that tried to usher him into the afterlife. It has that low key sound that adds a great deal of atmosphere to the record, and is all the better for lacking that crystal clear clarity you get from the recording studio.

Songs such as the insomniac anthem Why Don't You Sleep? and the sexual politics of Poison, are full of intensity. There is a stark honesty to this collection of tracks, with a deep emotional vein that is tapped into continuously. Come On Beat It Down is a dirty and defiant track, short and full of anger; I.C.U. (Toxic) is full of demented energy that suggests a full on break down is approaching quickly; To Isis Sleeping is a wonderfully melodic close to the album, building to a climax that fades out to the sound of the shower running.

There's not a lot of light on display, but don't let that put you off. There are moments of beauty in the darkness; a little dazzle in the desolation. While this won't appeal to everyone's tastes, it is well worth checking out. It bodes well for this year's follow up, which will likely be less raw but hopefully will lose none of the emotional honesty demonstrated here.

Adam Jenkins