Thursday, December 21, 2006
The Blow--Paper Television (2006)
Release Date-Oct 24, 2006
Biography-The Blow is really visual artist and performer Khaela Maricich, who formerly released recordings under the name Get the Hell Out of the Way of the Volcano, after which she recorded (with the help of some guests) for K under the name the Blow. The Blow set lyrics that sound like unverbalized thoughts to herself to minimal, often electronically textured basic pop melodies. Maricich's debut as the Blow was 2002's Bonus Album, which she followed the next year with The Concussive Caress, or, Casey Caught Her Mom Singing Along with the Vacuum. In 2004, Maricich teamed up with musical tech-geek Jona Bechtolt for the recording of the limited-edition EP Poor Aim: Love Songs, released late that same year. The results were much to their liking, so much so that the Blow decided to thus remain a duo. Everyday Examples of Humans Facing Straight into the Blow arrived early in 2005 and contained material that had previously been released under Maricich's earlier Volcano moniker. The Portland-based duo then returned in October 2006 with a full-length of new music entitled Paper Television.
Review-Ever since Khaela Maricich teamed up with Jona Bechtolt for the Poor Aim: Love Songs EP, the Blow's avant-pop leanings have been refined with more structure, more rhythm, and more hooks, resulting in a sound that, interestingly, is more forward-thinking than the group's more concentratedly experimental early work. Paper Television goes even further in this direction, marrying Maricich's charismatic vocals with beats and arrangements inspired by mainstream and urban pop. This bold juxtaposition of sounds pays off more often than not, particularly on Paper Television's first two songs. "Pile of Gold" pairs Maricich's sassy rap-singing with slinky, stuttering rhythms, while "Parentheses" boasts a fantastic chorus and production so bright and immediate that even if the song isn't played on mainstream radio, it certainly could be. However, the daring that makes Paper Television's best moments so unique also leads to some experiments that aren't as successful: "The Long List of Girls" is kinetic, but its beats feel a little contrived and end up stifling Maricich's singing. The glitchy girl-group pop of "Babay (Eat a Critter, Feel Its Wrath)," which likens the end of a bad relationship to being digested and excreted, is original, but also a lot odder than the songs surrounding it, and ends up detracting from Paper Television's flow. Still, the album has more uniquely great moments like the danceable, philosophical breakup song "Fists Up" and witty final ballad "True Affection," than uniquely awkward ones. Even with its subverted mainstream pop productions, the Blow is still very indie pop and very K-sounding; they're just not trapped in any preconceptions of what that means. Paper Television is exciting and accomplished, the album where the Blow goes from being interesting to being addictive.
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