steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Grampall Jookabox

"Scientific Cricket" CD

Joyful Noise Recordings

Genre: lo-fi, folk pop

August 2007

this record rules, joyful noise rules, and grampall jookabox especially rules. i don't know what to do with this recent influx of incredible lo-fi music, the most recent of which is this bizarro americana romp that seamlessly combines kooky experimentation and continuous infectious melody. in the vein of recent outsider folk outings like akron/family, animal collective, and flying canyon, gj crafts unlikely hooks out of brittle musical architecture. and who doesn't love those longing falsetto harmonies? a collection of campfire fragments, scientific cricket collects some of the most enjoyable makeshift song scribbles i've come across. take "ponta," a sorrowful melody layered with plinking xylophone and stray audio - it'll get stuck in your head, but the oddball commune atmosphere it evokes will keep things from getting stale. meanwhile, brilliant "earlobe kite" uses a sped-up vocal track as its primary melody and builds guitar and other vocals around it - it might be the most original song i've heard this year. on the stranger end, "we are the small windows" is a brilliant folk piece sped up to chipmunk-vocals speed, resulting in a strangely beautiful bit of outer spacey pop. and "light my bedroom from below" is a dark country ditty with slowed down lead vocals and accompanying falsetto. of course, not all of this is as good as its best moments - chantalong "liggle timmy toothpick" and "biz biz business" are cute but short for a reason. still, most of these songs are more original and enjoyable than 99% of what gets put out these days. cheers to one of this year's best records so far.

mp3 (from ponta


Fun Fact: The album's artwork was designed by Aaron Tanner of Stationary Odyssey fame.

coxwell balaban

[Vitals: 12 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2007]