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年份 2018
藝人 Joan of Arc
專輯   1984 (CD)
廠牌   Joyful Noise
樂風   Alternative Rock, Experimental, Indie-Rock

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成軍二十年的芝加哥實驗搖滾樂團 Joan of Arc 在今年推出新作《1984》,廠牌Joyful Noise Recordings特別製作了將近四百頁的同名電子小說,這篇座落在芝加哥的故事骨架取於 1949 年反烏托邦小說《Nineteen Eighty-Four》。,而在音樂上《1984》專輯則是帶出了豐沛的劇場感;Joan of Arc 嘗試了許多聲音的可能,專輯以女聲 Melina Ausikaitis 為主軸,寓言般的歌詞在樂器巧妙的動線下展現了叛逆,芝加哥九零另類搖滾那派純烈的風味也在專輯後半噴發,雖然專輯總長35分鐘,但卻體驗了一篇龐大的故事。(William)


Over their 20-odd year discography, Joan of Arc s astute, endlessly probing musical experimentation—steadfastly resistant to dogma and genre at every turn—has been chorused by a barrage of voices, mostly from the singular larynx of mainstay Tim Kinsella, who remains endlessly obsessed with (and infuriated by) Orwellian language and its dominion over American life. Richard Brautigan, Mark Twain, Elizabeth Taylor, and Assata Shakur might visit his lyrics, but its the band itself that contains multitudes. Throughout Joan of Arc, Kinsella and his bandmates have hewn together a true artistic democracy—some two dozen members over the years—to confront the darkening political realities and interpersonal mysteries of our time. Like their namesake—a donee of revelation who became a fierce holy warrior, only to be discarded by a king and burned at the stake as a heretic—Joan of Arc has inspired their share of true believers and dismayed legions of skeptics.

Ever since Joan of Arcs most recent lineup— Kinsella, Theo Katsaounis, Melina Ausikaitis, Bobby Burg, and Jeremy Boyle— congealed and began playing shows locally in 2015, going on to record and release their most recent album He s Got The Whole This Land Is Your Land In His Hands, via Joyful Noise on the day Donald Trump was inaugurated, fans have witnessed an even more radical democracy at work. Your War (Im One Of You): 20 Years of Joan of Arc, a full-length documentary from Vice s Noisey, was an initial window into the band s generous collaborative spirit and the far-flung, improvised creation of that new LP. Live, old jams and new tracks have often melted and mutated, members jumping from instrument to instrument in between or in the middle of songs, all stasis discarded. And now, a series of nearly a cappella performances from Kinsella s fellow vocalist Melina Ausikaitis, debuted live by Joan of Arc over the last several years, has become the backbone of their new LP, 1984.

Remarkably, so much of the cluttered sound of earlier Joan of Arc LPs has largely fallen away on 1984, as has Kinsella s voice. At first its genuinely shocking. But the songs here are a revelation, as profound and plainspoken as parables. Thoroughly of the bands lineage, Ausikaitis lyrics are equally measured with wit, despair and stubborn perseverance. There is awkward sex at Grandmas house. There are kids in the snow wearing cop sunglasses and the crumbling psychic defenses of childhood memories. There are A-frame houses and white horses. There are trucks losing their brakes on the hill at the end of the street. There are heaps of thoroughly useful self-help advice (“stop chicken-shittin all over your life” has become a personal mantra.). Like the albums striking hand drawn cover art, the music inside is often spare. Anthemic highs ring from elegiac lows and back again. At times, Ausikaitis sings in an earnestly tangy and lovely flat twang redolent of the midwest, before screwing her voice up into a fearsome roar. Sometimes her voice is electronically distorted, like bells in the sky, into ringing eternity. On “Vermont Girl”, Im not entirely sure she isnt purposefully doing an impression of her bandmate just for the hell of it, and it cracks me up every time I hear it.

Whenever Ive decided I have this band pegged, theyve challenged and rewarded me: with a score for a silent film, in a half-hour minimalist cover of the Beatles “Helter Skelter” pounding through an art museum, by a performative collaboration with a theatre group, and one particularly memorable Empty Bottle show where they uncorked volleys of catastrophic EDM at a crowd that seemed to melt into the walls. More often than not, it seems like the less Ive expected from them going to a show or tucking into a new album, the more Ive received. The more Ive seen others scratch their heads at this bands steady defiance of expectations, the more Joan of Arc has made me see their artistic wisdom. On 1984, they ve done it again, and I suspect theyll continue to soundtrack my life beyond these past two confounding decades. These days there are too few bands that make me feel less alone.

You tried to be a person with no problems, but there is still time for you to get on Joan of Arc s one way train and ride with me to their pyre of righteous, pure democracy. Put on your headphones and fire up 1984 and remember yourself as a child, when your only tattoo was the memory of the first time you saw your mother cry written deep upon your heart. Listen: there s no need to close your personal hole. Its a place where only you can go. You got your head shaved cuz of the lice. Your collared shirts have the bottoms tucked inside. All of your life youve been eating shit, but look at us now. Were real punk kids.

- JR Nelson

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