EP (2004, Lucky
occasions I have been accused of being 'too indie' by my fellow
peers and 'colleagues' and while I initially shrug it off I get
to wondering if there really is such a phenomena. Am I wasting my
time by searching below the critically-accepted indie Mendoza line?
Should I listen to the latest Antony & The Johnsons album for
the third time in hopes of 'getting it'...or should I pass and let
Portland's Point Juncture, WA step up to the plate to pinch hit?
To me, both artists, though sounding nothing alike, are equal in
status in spring training. I chose the latter and I am happy to
report, with no reservations, that Point Juncture, WA came through
with a base knock when I had perhaps started to doubt myself.
forget the visually pleasant stenciled/sprayed artwork for a moment
and cut right to the music. Some artists invest a whole lot of effort
and energy into the opening track, opting for the 'bang' first.
This may elicit temporary euphoria but more times than not the surge
fizzles and you're left with a post-coital letdown. On Juxtapony
the band exercises the opposite approach. 'Western Flyer' provides
sufficient foreplay for what is to come on the album, a short jazzy
prelude with twinkling vibraphone and sleepy trumpet.
Yeah, the intro
may sound like an orchestra warming up, fine-tuning their instruments
for their upcoming performance but it segues nicely into the slow-sizzling
'Siesta Movement'. Amanda S.'s vocals should immediately recall
Caithlin De Marrais (Rainer Maria) or Jenny from Rilo Kiley, affecting
enough to wow but with just enough bent edges to transcend 'pretty'.
Meanwhile the bass thumps and stringy guitar slithers along. And,
woo, there's more of that wistful vibraphone as well. The band also
display a knack for harmonizing near the end of the song. Well-rounded
and very nice.
best track on the album, 'Transient Attack', follows and I'm not
kidding when I say this is easily one of the best individual songs
I have heard this year. Dirgey organ and vibraphone peek out from
behind the stutter-stop drumbeat. One of the male vocalists in the
band, Victor Paul Nash, takes the helm here but Amanda, who's also
responsible for the above percussion, chimes in throughout. The
song climaxes halfway through, with dreamy harmonized vocals and
sorrowful guitar inducing goose-bumps and chills. This variety of
ethereal dreampop brings personal favorites, Aarktica, to mind as
well as the terribly underappreciated Broken Social Scene offshoot,
Raising The Fawn. It also appears the band has a subtle sense of
humor, quietly utilizing a Chuck Norris quote ('the best defense
is not to offend') amidst a tale of an uneasy friendship. I'm
glad I'm not the only one who remembers that commercial. Excellent!
nothing else on the album is as otherworldly as the above-mentioned
songs, there is also nothing that will offend (ho ho). The toned-down
'Comments In Jars' finds Amanda, more or less, cooing sweetly along
to a drum machine. The band packs up the pretty and busts out some
noise on the rugged, but playful 'Superer'. This could be a long-lost
Rainer Maria or Jim Yoshii Pile-Up track (a good thing). The sparse
piano-driven finale, 'Oh, Pioneers' winds things down appropriately,
even if it's on a rather gloomy note. (BTW, are those chirping birds
I hear? If so, why are they not credited!?)
Juxtapony Point Juncture, WA has proven, beyond a doubt,
they have the chops to win a place on the starting roster and they
know how to present themselves well (smashing artwork). It appears
the band is planning on releasing a full-length later in the year.
Here's to hoping more people become 'too indie' and pay a bit of
attention to it when it arrives. I know I'll be in attendance.