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Kinsella and friends offer an odd sampling on new album

By Bryan Menegus, Staff Writer

Ever been to a Chinese buffet? To extend that experience to a separate sense, grab a copy of Joan of Arc's new eighteen track "Don't Mind Control," which sports a cast of over forty different musicians in the Chicago indie scene who have, at one time or another, collaborated with Tim Kinsella, frontman of Joan of Arc. However, the tracks here aren't a group effort with Tim as ringmaster. Instead these are individual submissions by those former collaborators' present musical outlets. So, like the aforementioned buffet, some of this will be a delicious bargain, some will be disturbingly absent of any recognizable flavor whatsoever, and some of it will leave you curled over in a Port Authority bathroom stall for the next few hours.

Among those reigning in the unfortunate last category is A Tundra's "The Doug McComb Over," which sways between lazy honky tonk and asinine twang. The ‘we gave my girlfriend a part in this song' female vocals are the real poop-cherry on top. Most disappointing is that many of the tracks just meander like blindfolded infants in a laundry basket full of broken glass. As entertaining as that sounds, tracks like "Oakley," "Uwar" and "Kickstart" come off as either acid-damaged fumbling or willful laziness.

Now for the bargains: Owen's (AKA Mike Kinsella) submission, "No More No Where" reaches the same addicting loner-catharsis which has propelled his previous work, and Euphone's "Friends in Common" hits on a spacey pocketed groove. Cale Parks' "Long Looks" recalls the highly-orchestrated high of bands like Menomena. Tim's solo effort provides the 3D glasses to properly see into the mind of an insane person, while Vacations give a jaunty tour through innocent math-rock

Viewed as an album, "Don't Mind Control" is unforgivably inconsistent in both tone and quality, which begs the question- why was this released under the banner of Joan of Arc? JOA has always been the product of Tim Kinsella "and friends," but this pushes the definition a bit too far. A better title might have been "A Whole Slew of Bands, Some of Which Are Good: An Introduction to the Chicago Scene." Obviously the phrasing could use some work, but the sentiment remains: this is not an album, it's a sampler. Those already inducted into the cult of Kinsella would do good to browse these tracks for new fodder, but anyone looking for newer JOA should just buy 2009's "Flowers." 

The band Joan of Arc (Photo courtesy of MusicHawk)

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