Joan Of Arc
"A Portable Model Of" CD (Jade Tree)
When Cap'n Jazz broke up, it spawned The Promise Ring and Joan Of Arc which, in many ways, are sonic cousins, continuing to map out similarly skewed musical turf. While members of JOA would go on to record more straight-forward albums under the name of Owen, Owls and American Football, the albums produced under JOA's banner embodied the sort of quirky experimentation that its members embraced in their prior incarnation. The problem is that where Cap'n Jazz's work was youthful and enthusiastic, JOA seems more calculated, more intentionally arty and weird. While this might represent a musical challenge to a listener, it doesn't really suggest that the band's members learned much from being in Cap'n Jazz - or were able to apply it. While it's always advisable to consider a band's work on its own merits, this music is simply to close to what JOA's members did before to eliminate their previous work from the discussion; sadly, this album suffers by comparison. It features none of the excitement and senses of discovery and play that their former efforts did; instead, it sounds like a slowed-down rehashing of ideas that they had already exhausted in the bright flame of curiosity. It's true that some of the melodies continue to hold true, but this combination of early emo and Chicago-styled post-rock (think Tortoise, Jim O'Rourke) doesn't even come close to realizing what earlier work suggested was possible.
"How Memory Works" CD (Jade Tree)
More of the same blip-and-twitter post-rock. Tim Kinsella's cracking, tremulous voice is just as off-putting as it was on the first JOA album, proving that - despite what generations of punks may think - at some level, some amount of vocal prowess (even if it's nothing more than growling in Frankie Stubbs' just-gargled-with-Drano register) is necessary. While Kinsella's vocals were charming in Cap'n Jazz, part of independence means constant improvement - constantly doing better with the tools at hand - and a voice is one of them.
"The Gap" CD (Jade Tree)
Sure, some of the song titles are clever ("John Cassavetes, Assata Shakur, and Guy Debord walk into a bar ...," "Me and America (or) The United Colors of the Gap"), but there's nothing more here than on any previous JOA record, despite Kinsella's slightly more accomplished vocals and somewhat more straight-forward songs.
"How Can Anything So Little Be Any More" CD EP (Jade Tree)
With this release, Joan Of Arc became the band that made me question whether I really needed everything on Jade Tree. See the previous reviews if you need additional information.