Want to feel like a loser for doing absolutely nothing with your forced home confinement courtesy of the global pandemic? Just listen to Ryan Allen’s brilliant and brilliantly massive 20-track surprise album, Song Snacks Vol. 1.
This kitchen sink and all collection, recorded at home with little more than an amp, a few guitars, and some software, captures Allen during a particular prolific peak of creativity. He references some of the indie home recording classics like The Wrens’ The Meadowlands and Guided By Voices’ Alien Lanes, and like those albums, there is a lot of music to wade through.
Impressively, despite its size, there is still a cohesive vibe to this collection. The sound is not that far removed from the power-pop, punk-slathered music he puts out with his full band, Extra Arms. And the bulk of the tracks here are around one to two minutes long, so it’s not nearly as intimidating as it looks.
The opening song, “Inventing Sports,” with its ringing guitars and Allen’s soaring vocals, is pretty indicative of what follows. And surprisingly given the uncertainty of what’s happening in the world right now, from societal strife to global health concerns, the record manages to be void of fear and gloom and serves as a welcoming distraction with songs about wizards, ghosts, and psychics.
Coming less than a year after Extra Arms’ last record, this album was certainly unexpected, but now that it’s here, I couldn’t imagine getting through the summer without it.