Monday, November 30, 2009

Jesca Hoop - Kismet

I let the last.fm client dictate much of my music listening. It's nifty -- input an artist you like, and it plays you similar-sounding stuff. It's a good way to discover new music, and it's easier than organizing your own playlists.

Recently, I've been listening to a lot of alternative groups with female vocals along the lines of Fiona Apple and Nellie McKay (another recent find). When last.fm plays a song, it also displays the artist and album information on-screen. I find myself running to the computer once in awhile to find out who's making that lovely noise.

Which leads me to today's topic: Jesca Hoop. It seems the last three or four times I've wondered "Who is that?", it's been her. That being the case, I finally decided it was time to find her only (officially-released) album, Kismet.

Jesca Hoop's bio on Last.fm mentions she listened to Tom Waits early on, and it really shows. She's got the clunky, circus-like foundation in about half the tracks on this cut. Her influences, though, go far beyond that; "Out The Back Door" brings back vivid memories of Cibo Matto's distorted vocals and dark, syncopated rhythm, and "Silverscreen" has distinct splashes of Beatles-style elements, including tastefully-executed orchestral swells and a little melody in the chorus that sounds like it could have come straight from Sgt. Pepper.

There's so much variety on this album, every track feels like a brand new experience on the first listen-through, and most remain interesting on subsequent analysis. Best of all, Ms. Hoop manages to completely avoid the trap of neo-cabaret that plagues so many talented young female artists. It's alternative music, to be sure, but with such a wide variety of influences behind it, Jesca Hoop's sound is wholly original and wholly enjoyable.

1 comment:

Haley said...

Hi - I randomly stumbled upon your blog whilst wasting time at the office. If you find yourself in the mood for some alternative with male vocals, you should check out Andrew Bird. He accompanies himself on violin, and, believe it or not, whistling. He creates some very complex, layered sounds. Definitely worth a listen.