Joan of Arc - Eventually, All at Once
Record Label Records
Released July 27th
A few moments ago, before starting on this word document, my television flashed a brief commercial for a god-awful band that I choose not to name. During those few sloppily sequenced seconds of desperate advertising, something sunk in my stomach as I realized what today’s music industry has become. Those lucky few; those pompous bands who employ mass media to naturally assume after releasing their new album, filled to the brim with fillers, listeners will adhere because they have twenty or so thirty-second spots a day. Of course, with inevitable commercial spillage for artists such as Madonna, you can at least relate her upcoming album with commendable hits such as “Like a Virgin”. What do we have to base Blue October or Hinder’s new album off of, though? A couple of local bar gigs that landed them an attentive ear with a record exec? My opinion is often dismissed by most of my friends, as they don’t realize how un-tainted bands such as Joan of Arc truly are. Frontman Tim Kinsella has always struck a chord with me through any number of his projects simply for being himself. Through countless genuine releases, no other band Kinsella has recorded with captures the negative and positive externalities of life as well as Joan of Arc, as established with the band’s extensive discography.
After a while, it became unclear what would result from JOA, as internal turmoil among the various members became apparent in the studio. Good news released those anxieties, however, with news of a new release entitled Eventually, All At Once.
While most of the album is primarily an acoustic affair, it still captures the band’s infamous discordant undercurrent and Tim’s inversely connotative lyrical angulars. Eventually…, however, does not rely on studio-born static and oddball electronics, which was the mainstay of the band’s previous albums like How Memory Works and The Gap. By means of the opening title track, on the other hand, you’ll forget all about those quirky, and often haunting, electronic fuzz.
“Eventually, All At Once” is a gorgeously looped acoustic piece that catches Kinsella’s vocals at an upright stance. With lyrics revolving around the idea of a collective frequency among the world’s population, Tim famously ends the song with, “And understand that understanding/Is understanding not understandin’.” Those accustomed to Joan of Arc’s previous releases will be warmly familiar with the second track, “I’m Calling Off All Falls From Grace”. Resonating guitar and bass swim and swirl as a subtle drum roll leads Kinsella’s poetic pessimism. “All my best mistakes/Have taken years of concentration/So my actor contrition/Is contented connection.” The third track, “Miss Cat Piss and Peppermint” is the first and most pleasingly upbeat acoustic uppercut. Though, the song is brief, it’s “childhood reminiscence” sound is a welcomed divergence.
During the course of the tracks “You Can’t Change Your Mind” and “Living Out in the Sea of Umbrellas”, the listener will get a winter-y chill from Joan of Arc’s lanky guitar hooks and cool background aesthetic. Think of it as the equivalent to Modest Mouse’s The Moon and Antarctica as a fetus, electrically charged and with a bigger penis. You’ll catch my demented drift when the reverb soaked outro of “Living Out…” hits. “Many Times I’ve Mistaken” is my personal favorite on an album so crammed with worthy candidates. The song is essentially an acoustic guitar duet, highlighting Tim’s most praiseworthy lyrical brilliance.
“Dream logic’s clear victory/Must be first that you hear me/Whatever plant might our ears be/Next that candles have two ends to burn/Touche clichés are real/I’m learning to feel/Dream logic takes its turn/And now I’m feeling to learn”
Nearing the end, Eventually’s polarizing folk-rock seems to involuntarily take a more direct turn. “The Words Have Cast Their Spells” is a frosty backdrop to Kinsella’s more oblique lyrical wanderings. A jumpy, bass led, bridge and the usual sullen melodics still apply. “If All These People Can Understand Money…” is an oddball on the record. A groovy guitar rhythm parallels sporadic salsa-shakers and a muttering bass in the midst of meek studio-born intrusion. A counter-melodic to the otherwise danceable arrangement is, of course, Tim. His relaxed vocals give no further oomph; a testament to JOA’s obscure arrangements. “Scratches A Pencil” is a throwaway track as nothing stands out, unfortunately, in the scheme of things. Though, such a lacking track is compensated for the outro ballad, “Free Will and Testament”. However, Kinsella’s persistent ideological ideals seem to get in the way, more so than in the previous songs. Concentrate on the dominating acoustic backing, though, and the album will end perfectly.
You won’t soon see Joan of Arc on the television, but in the long run, would you really want to? Keeping such a profound collective of musicians to yourself and a few thousand others is a special feeling only felt once or twice in your life. Witnessing first-hand Tim and his hippy-ish dancing during a show one night made me realize how free this man is, both with his strong beliefs conveyed through brilliant lyrics and with his avant-garde appreciation. Eventually, All At Once fails to rank in the band’s top three releases, but I’ll be damned if its one of the best albums I’ve heard all year.
Its a scientific fact that Owls is not better than Cap'n Jazz or Joan of Arc.
Heh, whatever dude. To each his own I guess. I just prefer music that most of the songs are somewhat taken in a serious manner, unlike half of the Cap'n'Jazz anthology. Joan of Arc is alright, but it all sounds the same to me, pretty much every album. Owls was the shit. Nothing Tim does will ever top that imo.