Monday, February 9, 2009

"Heart to Elk" the next "Goya"? PJWA the next Grenadine?

You have to know people.

I didn't realize it, but Point Juncture WA's new album wasn't out yet when it was pressed into my hands Sunday by their erstwhile web designer, R. Niswonger. He didn't realize that I was writing for this fine blogging establishment at the time either, so there is a purity to the exchange... just a couple of friends and the gift of music. "Heart To Elk" is available today, on CD at least. You'll have to wait for the vinyl. Until then, if you'd like to hear about the album, stick around.

The first thing you need to know about this album is that it is buried under a mountain of (or built on a foundation of, pick your POV) vibes. Real or VSTi, it doesn't matter for our purpose, the vibes ain't nothin' but, sorry Barry. Vibes are one of those musical ingredients that are just... too good. Are they overused on this album, or does it fit with the downtempo lounge feel that works so well? I'm voting for the latter.

The weak point of the album is when it strays from its focus as an atmospheric downtempo rock act fronted by a distinctive female singer. I'm not much of a track-skipper, but found myself doing so whenever the dudes started singing. Apart from my personal belief that the female-vocal-in-music aesthetic should be ascendent right now, those tracks in particular just seemed weak, and made the album as a whole seem scattered. Perhaps it's the 'collective' feel of the band. How many members are there? 4? 5? 7? It was this impression that brought me to the Grenadine comparison.

The unfortunate Miss Farmer can't be rid of me, as a man of letters, at least, because our high school time was a musical turning point for me, and I was introduced to Grenadine through one of her mixtapes, though of course I reintroduced myself later when I actually had a CD player. They were an early nineties indie-lounge supergroup- my hands hurt just typing that- with a couple of albums and a few 7"s. Great stuff, one of those bands you have playing in the background and everyone says "WOW, who is this?" then goes and unsuccessfully tries to find the album. Everything I've said about PJWA more or less goes for them. Cutesy packaging, lounge vibe, atmosphere, great chick singer, dudes interrupting, occasional scattered feel, otherwise awesome.

The primary difference is that this isn't '92. That's almost 20 years ago, which makes me feel hella old, and also means that instead of barely riding a half-trough of weird indie underground exotica semi-enthusiasm, as Grenadine did, Point Juncture WA is right in the thriving locus of a musical outgrowth that (I hope) will have them rock out most thoroughly and successfully.

Just let the chick sing!


Ben Meyercord said...

Did you see that there are some PJWA shows this week? Check 'em out.

Jess Gulbranson said...

I saw that. I'll try to!