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Joan Of Arc - Joan Of Arc, Dick Cheney, Mark Twain... (Cover Artwork)

Joan Of Arc

Joan Of Arc: Joan Of Arc, Dick Cheney, Mark Twain...Joan Of Arc, Dick Cheney, Mark Twain... (2004)
Polyvinyl Records

Reviewer Rating: 3.5


Contributed by: Matt_WhelihanMatt Whelihan
(others by this writer | submit your own)

It seems like it would be an almost impossible task for a band to walk the fine line between avant-garde experimentation and pop sensibility, but somehow, on most of the new Joan of Arc album Tim Kinsella and company have done it. While in the past much of Joan of Arc's material has seemed outlan.
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It seems like it would be an almost impossible task for a band to walk the fine line between avant-garde experimentation and pop sensibility, but somehow, on most of the new Joan of Arc album Tim Kinsella and company have done it.

While in the past much of Joan of Arc's material has seemed outlandish and has even been called "fucking around for the sake of fucking around" Kinsella has now found a way to meld pushing the musical envelope with talented song writing.

Now just because Joan of Arc's new album contains songs that are catchy and don't need to be studied in order to be appreciated doesn't mean that they are following normal song structures or penning lyrics that resemble anything on the pop charts. Joan of Arc has never been about following the status quo, they have just found a way to make their own sound a bit more accessible.

On the opening track of the album, "Questioning Ben Franklin's Ghost," the band somehow finds a way for jazz piano and an odd time signature to blend seamlessly with a humable melody and up-tempo drumming. On "White and Wrong" the band combines quirky Modest Mouse style guitar lines with an assortment of percussion. Wood blocks, triangles, and slow swirling snare rolls combine with another of Kinsella's well-written melodies. While on "80's Dance Parties Most of All" Kinsella lists everything he believes to be a conspiracy over top of Talking Heads-esque percussion and acoustic guitar while ambient noises fire off in the background.

It is on tracks like "The Title Track of this Album," "Deep Rush," and "The Cash in and Price" where Kinsella and company fail to mix art and pop. Instead the songs just sound fragmentary or odd as they dabble in strange electronic noises and/or spoken word vocals that make Kid A-era Radiohead sound like mainstream rock. Luckily these side trips into awkward experimentation happen rarely.

This problem can also be found in the lyrics. While Kinsella is able to create some beautifully poetic lines there are other times when, like the music, the lyrics step into the realm of absurdity. Lines like, "I'm onomatopoepic animal faces," and "I've only one question left unanswered by both Sid Vicious and my mother," are just a bit too strange.

Joan of Arc, Dick Cheney, Mark Twain… may not be a great album as a whole, but it does contain a number of great songs.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (September 22, 2004)

i honestly think that there is no better music than joan of arc or anything that tim kinsella has created. he's just a really misunderstood not mention confused and confusing person. he's probably the most sincere person/songwriter i've ever met and that can be a dangerous combination.

Anonymous (September 21, 2004)

Personally, I loved this album. It's rare that JOA will make reference to the real world (GASP!), although it does have its sprinkles of shameless cliches and what really seems like meaningless nonsense (as in "Can anyone really get anything logical or introspective out of this song?"). But, the music is really great, and there are some super good songs/lyrics/lines in it. My personal favorite is "If you let the cops lead any march you'll just get a horshit trail to march in".
If this is a new promising direction for JOA then I do hope that they have it perfected, or at least refined, by the next album. They have a lot of potential for beautiful and intelligent music if they just apply their knack correctly and if they just apply a more solid statement while trying to avoid pradictable politics- and this album is a great point of departure!

Anonymous (August 27, 2004)

I think I might like this because it might put me to sleep, I'll have to listen to more. Only on those rare occassions where I need to....sleep.

--jaysin

Anonymous (August 25, 2004)

Don't forget about Make Believe, another Kinsella project. Their S/T EP is great!

jheisel (August 25, 2004)

nothing will ever top cap'n jazz.

Anonymous (August 25, 2004)

the owls are the best thing that he's ever done

Jesse (August 25, 2004)

I've been meaning to write a bunch of Joan of Arc catalog reviews, but I don't have the time due to all the shit Scott's been sending me; plus, catalog reviews never get posted. I did a Velvet Underground review about three months ago, and it hasn't hit the publishing yet because there's a shit ton of modern stuff waiting. I need to pick this up.

And those "too weird" lines are wonderful.

Anonymous (August 24, 2004)

kinda wierd that this is the first joan of arc review on here, or any kinsella related thing (sans an owen and capn jazz review). but i mean, no other joan of arc, owls, american football, and whatever the million other bands theyre in.

Anonymous (August 24, 2004)

To the previous poster: Yes, they're brothers. They were both in Capn Jazz, Tim sang and Mike played drums. Then, Tim went on to Joan of Arc and Mike went on to American Football and Owen (not saying those are the only things they've done, but it's what they're most known for).

mykindofmurder (August 24, 2004)

this isnt the dude from american football? i thought that dude's name was mike. so they're brothers, were they both in cap'n jazz?

sk8punx4evr (August 24, 2004)

the damn store didn't have this when i went in, and said they probably won't be getting it. uhhh, thanks. "fleshy jeffrey" is great, though.

Anonymous (August 24, 2004)

I saw the Owls perform once to an only-somewhat interested crowd and Tim kept apologizing and asking the crowd if they liked them. It was really awkward and kind of sad.

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