Iíve been putting off this review for a couple of weeks now. I was thinking, all of this time, that Jenni would turn out to be bland Ė another pretty girl with a bad habit of playing guitar. 1.76 songs into The Fourth EP, her debut out on Clickpop Records, Jenni convinced me that she is not talentless or boring. A mere 20 or so years old, Jenni Potts makes music that proves to be much more elegant and sincere than her years display. The Fourth does it all right Ė itís pensive and pertinent; itís slightly ambient, but jagged with rock girl mentality. Jenni has been through a lot, and you feel it in every croon of her voice. It seems as if all her anger, frustration, past tragedies, and depression are the fabric of this heartfelt unveiling.
This was my second time at D.C.ís Rock and Roll Hotel in the span of a month, this time to catch The Annuals. Technically the band goes without the ďthe,Ē but for the sake of reader-friendliness, Iíll be including the definite article. The show was on a Sunday night, which was curious given The Annualsí considerably more prominent stature than most of the indie acts the venue sees. I suppose the R&R isnít exactly the most prominent venue nestled in its H Street abode next to a dollar store that still advertises phone cards. Despite the drawback of low turnout and grudging reality of work for most the next day, The North Carolina indie band has a reputation for wild live shows and I wasnít about to miss out on the fun.
Ambient electronica, as the name implies, is a genre that demands scale over scope. Brian Enoís gift to music has had a rather uneven history, mostly owing to the fact that itís extremely difficult to get right without tottering into either instrumental overload or the dubious lure of world music. Furthermore, as technology advances with the times, the detail demanded during the analog days of electronica is often passed over in favor of letting the machines just do their thing.
Bearded pic taken from Castanets’ MySpace
The man behind Castanets is mid US tour, yet takes time to talk with Shane Mehling about feline asthma, Freak Folk and (obviously) Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.
usounds: What lessons did you learn from your last record that you addressed on In The Vines?
Raymond Raposa: I learned to fry eggs. I learned the wretched smell of corn mash turning to whiskey, the smell that burns the inside of your nostrils, makes you think blood will tear from your eyes. I learned that it is better to leave some things on the ground no matter how intriguing they are to pick up.
usounds: Since the name implies a group of people, was the band started out with the intention of it not being a solo project? Do you ever think about forming a full-time band?
Raposa: It only implies a group of people if it’s written or said as “The Castanets” which is incorrect. It’s Castanets. The band did start out as a trio, however quickly mutated and the possibility for happy accidents by inviting friends and strangers to share the stage was sweet unpredictability. I have dream bands in mind, but I think these dreamy incarnations are happening in ways more powerful than self-willing or intentionality. It’s a flexibility thing. Keeping limber.
usounds: With Radiohead putting out their new record for as little as zero dollars, do you think this will have a trickle-down effect for indie bands in the near future?
In 1990, His Name is Alive released their first album on the prestigious 4AD label in England. The Livonia, Michigan group established itself as an experimental and sometimes ethereal pop band throughout their tenure with 4AD, which ended in 2002. Last year’s critically acclaimed Detrola was their first release for the Silver Mountain label, and Xmmer now follows in very much the same vein.
I have an oddly unironic obsession with playing solitaire. My fancy little PDA-cell phone has a built-in solitaire game, and I play it endlessly on the bus. I’ve been going at this for a couple of months now on my commute to and from work, keeping a little note with my high scores (I know, I use my PDA to it’s fullest capability. No internet plan, but I’ll play the shit out of the built in solitaire game.) Anyway, I’ve found an interesting dynamic with the music that I choose to listen to while I play solitaire. I want it to be upbeat, but not obnoxious. Not background music, per se… more motivational, but not motivational like “Gonna Fly Now.” I’ve found that proper music gives me the best possible solitaire form.