Today’s selection comes from the year 2000 out of NYC, although the singer herself spent much of her childhood in Utah.
Poe – Haunted
Take a listen won’t you: http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/Poe+Haunted/67782429
And read about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haunted_%28Poe_album%29
Fun Facts: The album also featured samples of audio recordings made by Poe’s late father, film director Tad Danielewski. The cassettes were found by Poe and Mark after their father had died and were literally audio-letters to the two of them that spanned back as far as their birth. Thus, the album is usually interpreted as a real woman (Poe) singing tributes to her deceased father (who sings back) even while telling the story of a group of fictional characters (from House of Leaves).
House of Leaves is the debut novel by the American author Mark Z. Danielewski (Poe’s brother) published by Pantheon Books. The novel quickly became a bestseller following its March 7, 2000 release. It was followed by a companion piece, The Whalestoe Letters. The novel has since been translated into a number of languages.
|Poe – Haunted
Least favorite track/tracks:
Overall (1-5 stars): 5
Preconceived Notions: I’m pretty sure I’ve heard at least some of this before, and MIGHT have even seen her at one of the 104 Fests I went to. I remember hearing her for the first time and feeling like she sounded nothing like I thought she would. I think I was surprised that there was a female singer. I don’t know, maybe the whole Edgar Allen thing was swaying my judgment. I’m expecting lots of late 90s feeling, something similar to the way listening to the Romeo & Juliet Soundtrack makes me feel.
As Listening: There is a Shirley Manson-esque quality to her voice, at least on “Control”
I like “Wild” a lot….and then it just keeps going and going
Ok, I’ve definitely heard “Hey Pretty” before
“Spanish Doll” sounds as if it should be being sung in some small French cabaret on Mars with everyone moving in slow motion and a single spotlight. There’s also a tiny part of it that makes me think it should have been featured in “Mamma Mia”
I immediately think of Tori Amos when I hear the opening of “Amazed”
After Listening: I’m really confused about this album and how I feel about it. Some of the songs I liked. All of the songs could stand on their own though, with different tones and themes running around all over the place. It was like a yard sale that combined the belongings of a suburban mom and a biker dude. Some of it just didn’t seen to go together and you were left thinking to yourself “do I want the leather saddle bags or the blender?” Part of it almost feels like a cheat because no one wants to pass judgment on anything this personal. I mean she’s got her deceased father’s voice all over this thing, which, inherently, tugs at my heart strings, but then she juxtaposes those moments with opening lines like “I’m not a virgin anymore” which just seems there to deliberately push some sort of already antiquated boundary, although not quite as over-the-top as Liz Phair. It’s like the record company heard the initial release and were like “we need two singles” and she was like “fine, but they’ll stick out like sore thumbs”, or maybe I just “don’t get the gist of the song”…yet. I think if this had been split into a double disc, with one side as her memoirs and one as her more atmospheric experiments, I could have wrapped my head around it, but the juxtapositions kept my brain flip-flopping. As a single release, I think it runs about 4 tracks too long, but at least they aren’t bad tracks.
|Preconceived Notions: I was vaguely aware of Poe in college, but I had pretty much written off as some sort of hippie chick with a jam band – probably on account of the type of people I knew liked her music. Couldn’t ever recall hearing a song. Putting together this playlist I am much more hopefully to see elements of electronica and a concept album about her dead father – has to be something there.
After Listening: The instrumentation for this album according to the almighty wiki includes guitars, fiddles, trumpets, drums, keyboards, bass, saxophone, viola, violin, and a trombone. I read that and got excited – then I listened to the thing and promptly wondered where the hell it all was (apart from a terribly forced “breakdown” in Hey Pretty)…In one sense maybe I’m a victim of expectations, but in another sense the music on this album is not much better than your average pop record. And how can you make a concept album with some tracks over 6 mins and do almost nothing musically interesting? Vocally Poe has a nice voice, a diverse voice-perhaps one that outkicks here lyrical coverage- as certain songs have terribly played out ideas – we get it little girl lost is now little girl bitch. The album has moments where it strips away production – ditches the vague samples, and pop overtones…and they are the standout efforts. Her father’s inspiration peeks out from behind the largely bland and forgettable mess in front of it-only on certain tracks, and it’s these tracks that make you wonder what really could have been.
Favorite Tracks: Spanish Doll – The music flirts with generic Spanish chord progressions, but it’s a wonderful break from the rest of the album to this point. Poe’s vocals here are excellent- not overdramatic but full of timbre and the mutli-voiced accents on phrases here and there.
If You Were Here – This song takes on the concept most literally and directly, and it’s handled beautifully. A sweet stripped down vocal melody, the samples from her father’s recordings to her, the little girl voice telling us “you can go now”. It’s an intimate track you feel almost guilty listening in on, except it’s done so well you can’t turn it off, even the min plus of silence that connects it to the next track seems worth just sitting in.
Least Favorite Tracks: Not a Virgin – The lyrical content on this thing is probably a double meaning and I understand it might be playing a character here, but it reeks of faux strength. You’re hook is “I’m not a virgin anymore. Just thought you should know.”? Noted. Now please write something of interest. The music here is late 90’s chick rock schlock – the guitar playing in particular is embarrassing.
Hey Pretty – We’ve definitely heard this before. A basic rhythm, subdued vocals, random electronic accents, it’s a little reminiscent of everything from Seether to Fiona Apple. Generic and with zero appeal.
Overall: 2.723 Why can’t the whole album be like “If you were here”? Apart from that grace not much of this seems very genuine at all. Maybe it’s the poor mixing choices that have a concept album about a girl and her father sounding like just another pop rock record. Lyrically Poe might be challenging the listener- but more challenging is sifting through the music to find those rewards. If Poe has more depth than say, a Fiona Apple or pop era Liz Phair it’s not on display enough here. And if you like artists like that, than that’s cool – but to me it’s sort of a shame b/c pokes her head out of this bland arrangement at times to sort of whisper at you – that she is in fact, a little more than that. Did more of those moments get left on the cutting room floor, or is this simply her ceiling? In either case, if you listen to this thing for the 1st time – throw out any expectations of concept- I suppose that will help.