Monday, June 29, 2009

Tiny Animals Worship Fire

After hearing about Point Juncture, WA via 3hive earlier this year, I was very excited to see the band open for the Thermals when they came through town this past May. Although there were only four people on stage, their inventive arrangements and collective multi-instrumental proficiency made them sound like a band twice their size.

Later on at the merch table, I scoffed a bit at their LP's $20 price tag (to be fair, the CD version is a more reasonable $12), but I plunked down the dough anyway, and when I got the thing home later that night, I found that my money had been well-spent, and not just for the lavish packaging (die-cut, letter-pressed, white wax, the works!), but also for the music contained therein, which manages to be even more impressive than the sleeve it comes in.

If I had to pick one band to compare Point Juncture to, the obvious choice would be Stereolab. Heart to Elk is packed with the same sorts of Krautrock beats, shimmering vibraphones and austere female vocals that characterize much of that band's work. Also, the album's crisp production brings to mind the work of frequent 'Lab collaborator John McEntire, so I was surprised to read that much of Heart to Elk was home-recorded!

Still, it's clear Point Juncture has worked hard to forge a sound they can call their own, and the album is a resounding success on that front. The songs range from blissful to brooding, with meticulously conceived arrangements and structures. Some cuts jump around so much I'd be tempted to label them "prog" if they didn't maintain such a poppy seamlessness, and the band even breaks into full-on freakouts on a couple of tracks. Overall, this is the kind of album where if you dig the first cut, you won't be let down for the album's duration. So good.

[mp3] Point Juncture, WA - "Once Tasted Ever Wanted"
[mp3] Point Juncture, WA - "Sick on Sugar"
(both from Heart to Elk; buy it from Mt. Fuji Records)

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