It's no surprise to anybody minding indie rock in recent years that things are happening in Portland, Ore. What's notable is that for the second year running our first big surprise of the year has sprung from that city. In 2008 it was slow-core dreamers A Weather, and in 2009 it is A Weather scene peers and sometime tourmates Point Juncture, WA. The five-year-old, self-described quartet (which curiously boasts five players in the splash photo at its web site) self-released its third record, Heart To Elk, last fall, but Seattle-based indie label Mt. Fuji will give the set wider release next month.
Point Juncture, WA's music uses many of the same tools as A Weather's, but generally these are more forcefully and energetically applied. The sum total calls to mind Stereolab or My Brightest Diamond -- or, more accurately, a hybrid of same. "Melon Bird" boasts the former act's motorik beat, while the chamber pop opener "Rocks And Sand" channels the latter with appointments of horn, some droning, woodwind-ish low-end, synth and tasteful, coctail set drumming. "The Easy Winners" proffers something like a quiet bossa nova re-imagining of Joy Division's "Transmission" (which we suppose makes it more like Low's stirring rendering of the track). Co-fronter Victor Nash's vocals on "New Machine" are as detached and serene as those of The Notwist's Micha Acher, and the song's noisy, feedback-filled dénouement suggests certain older work by that Bavarian foursome. The Amanda Spring-sung "Biathalon" is an almost-fierce rocker, but it is the uplifting, uptempo head-nodder "Sick On Sugar" -- also sung by Ms. Spring, posted for download below, great video here -- that may be the biggest song on the record. Heart To Elk will be released on CD and vinyl Feb. 19; Point Juncture, WA previously issued the Juxtapony EP in 2004 and the full-length Mama Auto Boss in 2005.
Point Juncture, WA -- "Sick On Sugar" -- Return To Elk
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[pre-order Return To Elk from Mt. Fuji right here]
Point Juncture, WA: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr
02/13 2009 -- Aladdin Theater -- Portland, Oregon