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Joan Of Arc, Owen Preview

| August 30, 2006 | 0 Comments

Joan Of Arc, Owen
Beat Kitchen, Chicago
Thursday, August 31, 2006

Joan Of Arc have long been the whipping boys of Chicago’s normally embracing experimental rock scene. Pitchfork once handed them a 1.9 (no album has garnered more than a 5.3) and the Chicago Tribune backhanded them by bringing it up in an article about Pitchfork.

It could be because the band’s origins are in Cap’N Jazz, who helped author the dreaded emo genre. A big part it is Tim Kinsella’s screeching voice and total disregard for traditional rock singing. But if you haven’t been paying attention, they’ve gotten much, much better.

Joan Of Arc, Dick Cheney, Mark Twain, released in 2004 on Polyvinyl, catapulted the band out of numbing guitar workouts — transferred to side-project Owls perhaps — and introduced junk-shop symphonies over which Tim (the band also house Mike and Nate Kinsella) actually restrained himself. The forces of pop reign once more on this summer’s Eventually, All At Once (Record Label), released simultaneously with stray-tracks compilation The Intelligent Design Of Joan Of Arc (Polyvinyl). On it, the Kinsellas and co. seem almost probing, less precocious, and more willing to scan the scenery before engaging it in full-on iconoclasm. There’s even a cover (Mark Kramer and Robert Wyatt’s “Free Will And Testament”) and the acknowledgement of growth, that the hair will continue out without forcing people to tear at it.

Dig this: one JOA offshoot was Owls, and another, while not exactly a breakaway, is Owen, Mike Kinsella’s continued acoustic musings. Supporting At Home With Owen (Polyvinyl), Mike once again brandishes his ear for breezy pop a la Aluminum Group and Archer Prewitt. He, too, offers a cover — a straightforward reading of The Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale” — but steadfastly picks himself and his relationships apart otherwise. While no formal announcement has been made, there’s obviously growing bitterness with his career, as this couplet from “Windows And Doorways” suggests: “This was a lot more fun when/The music meant something to someone and I didn’t have a girlfriend.”

Granted, someone needs to be difficult at a show like this, so teenagers Our Brother The Native have been added as openers. A spirtual clash of an album, Tooth & Claw gnaws at the very fabric of being like Animal Collective or a burnt out Devendra Banhart chewing on a leather shoe.

— Steve Forstneger

Click here to download Joan Of Arc’s “You.”

Category: Stage Buzz, Weekly

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