Sunday, July 06, 2008

Artists of Varied Persuasion, Part II

Various Artists, No Band Is an
Island, Knw-Yr-Own Records [8/5/08] (***1/2)

The floor is sticky / the screen is all aglow.
Sitting alone / at the motion picture show.
-- Calvin Johnson, "Sitting Alone at the Movies"

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

It's foolish to expect to like every song on a
various artists compilation, and I didn't like
every one on No Band Is an Island, but
the ratio of hits to misses is impressively high.

Bryce Panic ("Masterpiece") and Kimya Dawson
("We're All Animals") provide my least favorite sel-
ections, but I still feel that Dawson's whimsical work
enhanced Jason Reitman's Juno; separated from
an engaging narrative, however, it isn't my thing.

Also, "Animals," which features kids and the goofy "Uncle Bob,"
is directed more at children than adults ("When you get older,
your body will grow hair...some people shave theirs off, but I
let mine grow...the hair on my leg feels like long johns...").

As for Panic, I found his rapping irritating, but he does have a
way with words ("Naomi Klein wrote about me in The Nation").

I also have mixed feelings about Kaisle Feeled's "My Wave's
Your Wave," a long acoustic jam, Sandman the Rapping Cow-
boy's "Barack Obama (Will Rock Your Mama)," a weird hiphop-
country hybrid ("He's got a rad personality / his skin is brown"),
and ...WORMS' repetitious "Abide," in which the Oregon quartet
screams "Bye-bye, atmosphere!" over and nauseum.

That leaves most every-
thing else, highlights of
which include: "Lion
Tamer" (Mirah), "Sup-
port Your
Local Bandid-
os MC" (Photosynthesis),
"Mysterious Ways" (Nate
, above), "Wind Sum-
mons" (Mt. Eerie), Leiber &
Stoller's "She's Not You" (Bryan, Frank, and Bob), "Do the Dol-
phin" (Coconut Coolouts), "Cowboy Lullaby" (Khaela Maricich,
the Blow), "My Music Is My Sweat (Dub)" (Angelo Spencer et
l'Orchidee d'Hawaii), "Sitting Alone at the Movies" (Calvin
Johnson, Dub Narcotic Sound System), and "Certainty" (D+).

Except for the drum machine, I dug Karl Blau's jazzy "You
Can Use Your Words," as well, which comes on like a one-
man cross between George Benson and Mose Allison (!).

If the primary goal of a compilation is to introduce artists
from which listeners will want to hear more, this 22-track
set successfully primes the pump, and several of these
acts have full-lengths on the way, like Dawson's Alpha-
butt (on Olympia's K Records), Ashley, Photosynthes-
is, the Pyramids, and the reissue of Maricich's 1998
Look For It in the Sky It Will Always Be There (all on
Anacortes's Knw-Yr-Own Records). And on that
note: congratulations to Knw-Yr-Own, which roar-
ed back into life this year, on their 21st anniversary!

Click here for Part I: Various Artists - Music from Northern Ireland

Endnote: Started by Bret Lunsford (Knw-Yr-Own, D+, Beat
Happening), the seventh annual What the Heck Fest takes place
in Anacortes from 7/18-20 and features several of the acts on No
Band Is an Island, i.e. Ashley, Blau, Coconut Coolouts, D+, Daw-
son, Graves, Johnson, Maricich, Mirah, Mt. Eerie, Ô Paon, Photo-
synthesis, Spencer, Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive To Death,
and ...WORMS. Also, click the links for reviews of D+ - On Purpose-
1997-2007: Hits, Rarities and Live Cuts
and Mt. Eerie's Micro-
and Black Wooden Ceiling Opening. Images from Spin
(Johnson; photo by Alex Crick) and Knw-Yr-Own (Ashley).

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