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Noah John | Had A Burning (Loose)
On their second album (and the first to gain domestic release) NoahJohn have created an addictive blend of lo-fi hoe-downs and spaced out country. First track, Ima Clam, is post-punk nonsense redeemed only by a seductive, mysterious female spoken word section. The next track, Porter, slams into its punk/country gestalt with delirious aplomb, all frenetic fiddles and lopsided lap steel. By the third track you start to wonder who exactly NoahJohn are. The title track is next and it's a delicious slice of lazy country melancholia, reminiscent of a more vigorous Knife In The Water, with lead singer, Carl Johns singing "I was slain, disfigured, infantile / Then she vanished" in a voice that sounds like it hasn't slept in months. Infirmary concerns heavenly visions of death while others songs riff on desire and infatuation. The diversity of styles on offer actually works rather than detracting from the album as a whole, though several tracks (Bitch Lounge, Orange Cat) sound too much like a countrified Pavement. Still, there's some fine playing, the swirling John Cale-like viola on Lady Macbeth and the inebriated accordion on Drunkle just two of the most obvious examples. They even do a pretty good version of Loudon Wainwright III's only hit, Dead Skunk. All in all, there's definitely enough here to promise something special next time around.

Stav Sherez
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001

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