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   Thursday, July 31, 2008  
I don't know a goddamn thing, thank god*

News of a couple of forthcoming releases which reallyrather is quite possibly entirely alone in anticipating over this side of the water:

:: a record called Art project is being readied by Mascott aka Kendall Jane Meade & her latest cohorts. Back in '04 Dreamer's book got a single thumbs-up and its brightest moments still linger in the mind. 'If Aimee Mann had fended off cynicism, she might sound like Kendall Meade,' reckoned the NYT; 4th of July is the new album's advance party:

:: Benoit Pioulard's Precis ranked no.8 on this blog's list for '06; follow-up Temper is due in October, again on Kranky. 'Acoustic / Experimental / Other' is about right; 'Dream-like / Questing / Just Bloody Lovely' would also fit...
[sample Temper here][benoit revision]

Some of the qualities of Pioulard are also found in the work of Nathan Amundson aka Rivulets. Check out this cool unreleased song, The road, filmed rather beautifully in a Dortmund bar during Nathan's solo tour earlier this year:

And from one ex-Alaskan to..two more. Nelson Kempf & Keeley Boyle form boy/girl combo The Old Believers and adopted home Portland's Local Cut sums them, 'Crushing, refined Americana pop ... M. Ward crossed with the Arcade Fire’s Win Butler'. Three songs from second EP Eight golden greats can be sampled here...
[the old believers]

Talking of M. Ward, Volume One, his collaboration with actress Zooey Deschanel aka She & Him has been easily the sound of this blog's summer so far. That the two covers on this record - songs by The Beatles and Smokey Robinson - are really the only ones which let the side down is testament to the strength of Deschanel's (admittedly derivative) originals and their affectionately knowing treatment in the hands of Matt Ward & co.
While Deschanel's an altogether less singular personality and voice than previous Ward cohort Jenny Lewis as showcased on Rabbit fur coat, her detachment and directness serves these big tunes well. Carole King's Sixties pop pomp is one of the keynotes here while I thought I saw your face today channels pure Carpenters. Change is hard is bathed in a gorgeous, lambent, lapsteel glow and there's yet more lushness on Take it back, Zooey sounding like a harder-edged, bluesier Sally Ellison from Hem. Sure, there's a couple of throwaway bubblegum numbers ripping the Spector/Brian Wilson sound but its all of piece. Just as this blog suspects all involved did and mightily, enjoy...

* Among the Portland posse Ward roped in to flesh out the She & Him sound was Norfolk&Western's Adam Selzer and Rachel Blumberg and the latter also fulfils drumming detail on the latest record from singer/songwriter Shelley Short. Happily still inhabiting her own little world, Water for the day features lashings more of that slightly intuitive downhome style. Delightful highlights include Goddamn thing's characteristic bar-room lilt here augmented by the woody saw of viola/cello(?) and the airy Further & farther's lovely self-harmonizin' and spectral fx. Blumberg biffs her way in on Single minded hero but the old-timey, slightly woozy dance step of The getalong is propelled simply by Short's pluck 'n' strum. Perhaps most satisfying of all is the final May song in which Short's harmonica-enhanced multitracked vocal convincingly claims, 'I know what I've got when I've got it'. That's admirable certitude in which, should you acquire Water for the day, you too could share...
[shelley short][hush records player]
   posted by SMc at 8:13 AM |