Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Jenn Lindsay--- Uphill Both Ways

There was something vaguely familiar in Jenn Lindsay's music when I first heard Uphill Both Ways and it took me a few listens to nail it down. It turns out Jenn Lindsay plays (wait for it!) New Wave! I tossed genres around to see how they fit and none seemed to corner exactly what it was until the late 70s popped up and that was it! Jenn Lindsay, my alternative pop-ites, plays music for which Ken Barnes and the late Greg Shaw of Who Put the Bomp lived—60s influenced pop with creative flare. Lindsay displays just the kind of creativity and flare that could well have garnered her a cover of the rejuvenated Bomp zine, the project Shaw was working on when he so unfortunately left us. Her music fits all of his criteria—melody, hooks and drive.

Indeed, Shaw would have taken this CD on himself, not trusting anyone else to point out the positives: the Percy Sledge-like organ of Belong Alone giving way to the perfect three-chord chorus behind the bopping rhythm; the punchy acoustic rhythm of Brain which echoes the production of some of the best the 60s and 70s had; the fast, upbeat rhythms of the acoustic guitar and Lindsay's intriguing song stutter of Uphill Both Ways, not to mention the intriguing harmony vocals. What would have really done it, though, would have been the magnificent pop opus, It Came 2 Me, which mixes elaborate production with voice sans production until the end, a strange but captivating combination—and who could resist her inclusion of two lines from Lennon and McCartney's Got To Get You Into My Life as she crescendos "I was alone, I took a ride/I didn't know what I would find there". This CD is worth it for that alone.

She isn't all power pop, of course. She folds House of the Rising Sun and Amazing Grace into a strange folk song lamenting the tragedy of recent New Orleans (and the Bush Administration's bungled response) which she titled House In New Orleans. Christmas Song, Part 2 has a folky Hem sound and shows that she can feel as well as dance. If that doesn't satisfy your folk craving, she goes overboard in the monumental eight minute-plus Kitchen Sink in which she laments love gone bad with only acoustic guitar, occasional added voices and a classic sense of humor. And there is the eerie "Postolka", minor chords and weird chord progressions and all.

Sonics freaks might pick this apart if they heard it, but I contend that the production is spot on. You can't pull off something this creative in a sterile environment, just as you couldn't in the 60s and mid- to late-70s. It is the feel of the music as much as the music itself which gives this CD its edge. It feels good to me. Really, really good.

Until I heard this, Maggi Pierce & E.J. headed my list of groups to see. Now I have fantasies of a double bill. I don't even care who opens for who.

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