June 2, 2009

Review: Black Pear Tree EP, The Mountain Goats and Kaki King

Let’s get one thing clear, right from the get go. I don’t like Kaki King. I don’t like her haircut with bangs, I don’t like her godforsaken gypsy-inspired scarf fetish and I certainly don’t like her “twentysomething indie girl” glasses (The fact that she’s had LASIK only makes it worse. What, she thinks she’s better than the rest of us and our inferior eyes?). Because of this, the news that she’d be pairing for an album with John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats filled me with consternation. I was initially relieved to learn that it was going to be a tour-only vinyl EP, freeing me from the tiresome task of actually listening to the album. I have a personal policy of not listening to vinyl, somewhat because of a curmudgeonly desire to force artists to release music in an easily transportable format but mostly because I don’t own a record player. I was content with this until technology reared its ugly head and I was confronted with the FLAC files on my computer, apparently downloaded during a blackout post-bar music binge the night before (I also found my bike leaning against my piano and my guitar on the kitchen table, these little gems are why I drink). Faced with an easily accessible form of the album, I had no choice and I did what needed to be done. Unfortunately, the twenty minute walk back from my computer-burnin’ pit fast got boring and I had no choice but to pull out my iPod. Taking a rare break from Contraband: The Best of Men at Work I decided to give the Mountain Goats/Kaki King album a chance, slightly hopeful but mostly because iTunes autofill chose to overwrite my meticulously organized collection of both Talking Heads and Dinosaur Jr. early bootlegs.

Conclusion: The record is mostly what you’d expect it to be, with King playing guitar and Darnielle on piano for the majority of the tracks. Vocalized primarily by Darnielle, with one track entirely sang by King and a few others with some vocal help from her. Lyrics are traditional Darnielle, with his usual blend of understated hopelessness but lacking his trademark “at least one track where I attempt to burst my vocal cords.” Six stars.


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