Carcrashlander is the project started by Cory Gray. You might not know that name but if you have an album from a Portland band there is probably a good chance he might be playing somewhere on it. Gray is a session player for acts as diverse as The Decemberists, Grails, Norfolk & Western, Graves and Life At These Speeds. But, you should know him best from his former band, the sadly underrated Desert City Soundtrack. Carcrashlander’s official debut album comes courtesy of an interesting new label called Parks And Records (a percentage of all sales goes towards arbor related projects). Owing comparisons towards Desert City’s more even-keeled record, the somber Perfect Addiction, Carcrashlander play dark piano-driven music. In fact, moreso than older (unreleased) Carcrashlander material, Gray often uses a full band approach here. While it adds depth to Gray’s arrangements, this is strictly his show. His piano and horn playing along with his trademark somber vocal style continue to lead the way. Carcrashlander offers up a brooding album’s worth of material here that seemingly contradicts at every point. Gray’s moody tendencies are balanced by a wealth of ominous restraint. The sound of the record is mysterious yet still oddly comforting. It all works to push the album towards beautifully, sad places. So, I guess seems fitting that a campfire adorns the front cover. While Carcrashlander’s music is warm, intimate and even inviting at times, it sheds light on a world much better off left in the dark.