Point Juncture, WA, Heart to Elk

Point Juncture, WA, Heart to Elk

There is nothing like a band where the drummer sings, especially when it’s a girl.  In Point Juncture, WA, the sweet, silky, alto voice of Amanda Spring complements the clear tenor voice of Victor Nash.  Both singers take the lead on certain songs and sing back up on others.  It helps their sound, too, that they use a vibraphone as a regularly occurring instrument, played by Skyler Norward, who also records and produces their albums.  Wilson Vediner backs them up on guitar.  From Portland, Oregon, this band of four songwriters, instrumentalists, recording engineers, and friends have made beautiful, engaging indie music for the past five years.  The 13 tracks on Heart to Elk, their third self-released album, all move you with their uplifting feel and peaceful ambience.

The songs on Heart to Elk usually start with odd instrumentation as an intro and then develop into the more familiar guitar melodies.  They use keyboards to make typical piano noises or sometimes carry the tone of a more original instrument like a cello.  The lyrics are hard to understand at times, as the words are slightly slurred and elongated, but they tend to sing about love and loss.  Track three, “New Machine,” is an endearing love song utilizing a relaxing, soft drumming rhythm with subdued vocals and the lyrics, “I don’t know what I’ll do / when the train wreck comes for you / I’ve fallen back in love, it’s true /… and I know we can keep it up/ and I know that it’s the perfect cup.”

Track six, however, “Kings Part II,” uses horns, handclaps, and quick, tribal, bongo drumming, yet somehow remains a soft song with drawn-out vocals.  Spring sings, “I’m aware of the mountain dunes / but I’m not scared of the wish and doom.”   In track seven, “The Kings Were Good,” bells and chimes ring while horns lead into a muddled mix of distorted guitars.  Nash pointedly offers the brutal lyrics: “It’s no accident / that we make new friends / and we call us brothers / but to them brothers are less than nothing / as an infant with no prospects / he’s an accident.”

The eleventh track, “Fleet and Small,” starts with chirping birds, then goes into a repeated vocal part used as an instrument, followed by a double-beat drumming part, before the singing melody comes in: “You avoid the ghosts / and you burn through the shadows / If you bar too close / you can climb out the windows.”  It wins as the most off-color track of all, but also as the most interesting to listen to, since it’s ever-changing.  With more and more sounds entering the song until the overall sound reaches almost overwhelming proportions at three minutes in, this number is sure to impress.

The somewhat atmospheric quality of Point Juncture, WA’s music makes each song blend into the next with ease. They remind me of American Analog Set with a female voice and a bit of original instrumentation thrown into the mix.  To better place their vibe, check out their past releases, Juxtapony and Mama Auto Boss, or their MySpace, which states that they have played with Stereolab, Britt Daniel of Spoon, Dirty Three, Aloha, 31 Knots, Mates of State, and Viva Voce.  With those sort of surroundings and associations, I’d say they are bound for greatness.

(Mt. Fuji Records -- P.O. Box 17855, Seattle, WA. 98127; http://mtfujirecords.com/mtfuji/; Point Juncture, WA -- http://pointjuncturewa.com/)
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Review by . Review posted Tuesday, June 29th, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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