The Art of Shooting - Traveling Show
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: April 27, 2010
A colleague once wrote, "For every cockroach in New York City, there is a struggling musician banging away at a guitar in his bedroom." These days that adage seems most appropriate for the borough of Brooklyn, which churns out a band as frequently as an eye blink. The latest Brooklyn band to come across this desk is the shoegaze trio The Art of Shooting, fronted by chanteuse Kelly Irene Corson, whose penchant for melodramatic wordplay and artful arrangements seems to know no limits. The group's concise, 10-song debut offering Traveling Show details the travails and pangs of disappointment, heartache and the human condition in a way that is alluring, sensual and acerbic. Intrigued? You should be.
What separates The Art of Shooting from its peers is the band's gauzy way of exploring new ground, being playful and biting one minute, and languorous and twee, the next. Corson has the tortured yelps down pat and this dreamy concoction of feisty art-punk certainly has its fair share of high moments. Take for instance, album opener "Drinking and Dressing," which opens with blunt witticisms and careening guitars, before diving into "It Goes (Home)," a punchy exercise with sprite vocals and a jagged energy that is both rhythmic and charismatic. "One Minute Love Song," is gnomic and cute, as Corson tries to sing about despair and loneliness, and while it's a noble attempt, it's not nearly as sterling or as diamond-tipped as the sparkling "Orange," a radio-ready juggernaut that carves its way through the disc with a swagger and professionalism that's far too hard to ignore.
For all her manic displays of rage, Corson still knows how to be compelling and compassionate. On the ghostly haunt of "No One Two," she channels the warmness of St. Vincent and Feist, with a vibrato that is incredibly controlled, focused and downright captivating. Other vocal triumphs include the epic title track, a symphonic and moody exercise that is heavily nuanced and painstakingly controlled; and "The Keeper," a song, which honors its title by being something both indelible and irreverent. When the disc is towering forward, it almost feel as if Corson is aware of just how important the songs need to be. It's that effortless precision and skilled execution that is so frustrating about the disc.
While there are many inspiring moments, Traveling Show is still a bit of a mess. Angular, herky-jerky arrangements are certainly something to commend, but at times the entire exercise feels wanton and sloppy. "The Birdcage," is over the top in its concussive sentiments, while "120 Man," is stormy and violent. Most disappointing though is the disc's craggy closer, a screeching cut called "Pet." While raw passion and anger is certainly something to appreciate, the album's missteps are both profound and pivotal.
Being that the disc is an intensely personal project it's hard to admonish or disparage any more than what's laid out in the above paragraphs. In the end, Brooklyn has its fair share of upstarts and wannabes and The Art of Shooting may just be the dividing line that separates the pretenders from the contenders. While they're more closely aligned with the latter, their next release needs more consistency before they're relegated to the former.