Garrett Zuhoski, aka “Sleepy” Zuhoski, drops his debut album today, June 1, on the Palo Santo label. It’s called Better Haze, and it contains a dozen tracks informed by various styles and influences, including, but not limited to: dreamy folk, dance fusion, sci-fi rock, and pop.
As Zuhoski says, “I like a lot of variety. It keeps me from getting bored.”
He explains the origin of his eclecticism, saying, “I have a really broad taste in music. I listen to everything from hip-hop to free jazz. I want to put a little bit of everything in the music. Some people have a one-track mind where if they are going to make a rock record, it’s going to be a ‘rock record.’ I’d rather make a folk record with space sounds in it.”
Discovered by Salim Nourallah at an open mic performance, Zuhoski, who’d been playing in bands and dabbling in home recording for years, found himself in the studio laying down tracks for Better Haze.
Of the 12 songs on Better Haze, standouts include “Asleep for a Year,” a wistful, moody folk number that emanates a slightly hallucinogenic feel. “Muscle Memory,” a tune reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac, dispenses a creamy, undulating texture, along with stylish vocal harmonies.
“New Tattoo” features elements of electronic dance fused with alt-rock flavors, as does its sister song, called “Tsunami,” although the latter exudes darker hues and a hushed sensuality. Two sci-fi-flavored tunes grace the album, “On a Cloud” and “Hate to Sleep.” Both tunes jog memories of Radiohead, with streaming synths and laid-back, nasal vocals.
“Love You to Death” sounds like The Kinks covering a Hawaiian-flavored song. “Almost Automatic” rides a crunching feel enhanced by a droning synth and brightly twinkling harmonics, giving the tune a British dream pop savor.
Zuhoski’s voice, kind of dreamy, kind of nasal, kind of dark at times, is easy to listen to. There’s a cool imperturbable tone to his voice, unflappable and calm.
If you’re into polished, laid-back, innovative alt-pop, then Better Haze is just what the doctor ordered. The music is nuanced, tantalizing, and refreshing.