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Dazy's exhilarating 'OUTOFBODY' sustains its quality all the way through

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Rock critic Ken Tucker says it's not often he comes across an album full of loud rock music that sustains its quality all the way through. But he thinks he's found one - the debut album by Dazy, titled "OUTOFBODY." Dazy is actually just one musician, Virginia-based James Goodson. He started recording it in 2020 alone during the pandemic. Ken says the result sounds like the exhilarating work of a first-class rock band.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OUTOFBODY")

DAZY: (Singing) Is that my voice leaving my own mouth? Double check the source 'cause I got reason to doubt. Tried to manage a laugh at some offhand joke. But the moment passed while it was caught in my throat. Now I'm weak in the knees. I'm out of body. I'm grinding my teeth. I'm out of body. I'm begging you please. Be out of body with me.

KEN TUCKER, BYLINE: Is that my voice leaving my own mouth, James Goodson asks at the start of his debut album, "OUTOFBODY." He's trying to capture the feeling of being so alienated from your own thoughts and feelings that it has a physical effect, an out-of-body experience. This alternately confuses, alarms and comforts Goodson, who records under the name Dazy and played everything on this collection of a dozen short, sharp songs.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROLLERCOASTER RIDE")

DAZY: (Singing) I saw a blur of lights and colors, and it's got me weirded out. Now the turns are getting sharper, and the tracks are pointed down. They said, please keep your arms inside of the ride. You're going to need them just to hold on dear life - roller coaster ride, roller coaster ride.

TUCKER: That's "Rollercoaster Ride," on which Goodson's emotional turmoil is an easier journey to take, seat buckled into a certain amount of safety while still feeling thrilled. That's a good way to describe many of the songs Goodson creates. Dazy is a musical project that took shape at the height of the pandemic, when Goodson found himself unable to get together with the Virginia-based musicians where he lives. And he started layering tracks of himself doing a one-man-band thing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LADDER")

DAZY: (Singing) Won't you take a long look around? Made it up to heaven just to knock it down - I guess that'd be just fine by me. It didn't crack up to be much anyhow 'cause it's a long way up that ladder. It goes on and on, on forever. It's a long way up that ladder. Does it even matter after all, after all?

TUCKER: Listen to any song on "OUTOFBODY," and you may eventually think, have I heard this song before? My mental list of the influences I heard included the propulsive guitar drone of The Jesus and Mary Chain, the sweet-and-sour romanticism of Matthew Sweet, the bratty anger of Oasis and the pounding catchiness of Cheap Trick, T. Rex, Teenage Fan Club and - well, I could go on. The nice thing is James Goodson as Dazy doesn't go on. He makes his points in songs that rarely exceed two minutes, and he imprints those precious seconds with enough force of character to refute the idea that he's just a copycat.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHOOSE YR RAMONE")

DAZY: (Singing) Am I Joey? Am I John, maybe Dee Dee, maybe Tom? Time relentless - I'm still senseless. Roll your eyes, and clap your hands, laughing at the cover bands. Time relentless - I'm still senseless.

TUCKER: That's "Choose Yr Ramone." Oh, yeah, Goodson was also influenced by the harsh brevity of The Ramones. Goodson sings most often in a voice that's high and urgent, just this side of hoarse and exhausted. His version of power-pop is noisy, ragged, full of feedback and clatter, the sound of a person trying to jolt himself out of a bad mood or worse.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AWTCMM?")

DAZY: (Singing) Leave me on the backend, so frustrated - couldn't help but stare while I deflated. Any way that could move me? Any way that could move me now? Give me something for my disposition - only getting worse with repetition. Any way that could move me? Any way that could move me now? So shake me up. Turn me inside out. I've had enough of this sacred crowd. Oh, shake me up. Turn me inside out. I've had enough.

TUCKER: This Dazy album "OUTOFBODY" was released near the end of last year, and it kept getting pushed down on my list of things I wanted to review, but I just kept returning to it. It's irresistible. Its songs won't leave me alone. Now I want to get you as hooked on it as I am.

DAVIES: Ken Tucker reviewed "OUTOFBODY" by Dazy. On tomorrow's show, we speak with veteran actor F. Murray Abraham. Best-known for his Oscar-winning performance in the film "Amadeus" he also played a recurring character in the TV series "Homeland" and recently earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in Season 2 of the hit HBO series "The White Lotus." I hope you can join us.

FRESH AIR's executive producer is Danny Miller. Our senior producer today is Sam Briger. Our technical director and engineer is Audrey Bentham, with additional engineering support from Al Banks. Our interviews and reviews are produced and edited by Amy Salit, Phyllis Myers, Lauren Krenzel, Heidi Saman, Therese Madden, Ann Marie Baldonado, Thea Chaloner, Seth Kelley, Susan Nyakundi and Joel Wolfram. Our digital media producer is Molly Seavy-Nesper. Roberta Shorrock directs the show. For Terry Gross, I'm Dave Davies.

(SOUNDBITE OF DJANGO REINHARDT'S "I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ken Tucker reviews rock, country, hip-hop and pop music for Fresh Air. He is a cultural critic who has been the editor-at-large at Entertainment Weekly, and a film critic for New York Magazine. His work has won two National Magazine Awards and two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards. He has written book reviews for The New York Times Book Review and other publications.