Riding from Barcelona with Balloons in your Pocket

Three quick tracks off my iPod shuffle for your aural pleasure this week, since Lauren is visiting and I need to be on a bus across town five minutes ago on this snowy, watery night.

Joan as Policewoman – The Ride

When I look at the name of this band (the moniker for the musical outpourings of Joan Wasser), my eyes can’t help but be drawn to that line-up of vowels, the persistent ‘o’s and ‘a’s parading through the consonants like ribbon through straw, each one briefly unremarkable yet cumulatively giving the impression of an uneasy familiarity, like reading about an old school friend in the paper. Wasser’s voice, for me, achieves the same effect, uniting the stuttering piano and meandering drums, and orchestrating the song towards meaning, even if it is couched thick in world-weary repetition. There is still something quite beautiful in the way she opens out the vowel sound of ‘all’ in the chorus like the flowering of complaint into a hymn.

I’m From Barcelona – We’re From Barcelona

This song sounds like it really wanted to be a Macarena, or a Birdie Song, an Agadoo, or a Teensy Weensy Itty Bitty Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, but arrived too late for the era of unselfconscious disco cheese, or, like a gawky indie kid, stood shuffling its feet in the corner while all the other songs earwormed their way into the nation’s cultural wiring. Nonetheless, it is a paen to the same spirit of blazen-glorious naffness and it wants so desperately to make you forget how cool you think you are, and bring out your inner indie drunken uncle for all to see.

Joanna Newsom- Bridges and Balloons (Pocket Remix)

Pocket has been engaged in the dubious practice of taking the classic gentle heartpourings of the indie/folk world and attempting to render them groovable for some time now – previous other subjects have been Cat Power, Of Montreal, and Antony. Some might say this remix of Bridges and Balloons is like taking a hammer to a set of priceless teak drawers in order to make rough paper for the draft of a Dan Brown novel. Some would have a fair point. But this is the nearest you will ever get to Joanna Newsom in clubbable form. One guaranteed to send music connoisseurs into spasms of small-minded delusions of sacrilege (so techincally worth it for that alone).


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