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Noun

Holy Hell

(Don Giovanni; US: 6 Jul 2010; UK: 19 Jul 2010)

Mediocre voice undermines lively tunes

Noun is a musical project centered around Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females, who sings and plays guitar and keyboards. The tunes on Holy Hell are punchy and short. They range from two and a half minutes to less than four, and some benefit from lively instrumentation, but Paternoster’s voice is the weak link. This is unfortunate, as her voice is central to the arrangements. Listener frustration sets in when energetic songs like “Outerspace” and “Brother” kick off with promising bursts of distorted guitar noise, only to be undermined by Paternoster’s sliding, sometimes embarrassingly off-pitch vocals. “Wrong Things” weaves an interesting sonic web of percussion and guitar effects, but it can’t overcome that weak voice. Tracks like “Call Earth,” which place the vocals front and center, never even have a chance.

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DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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Noun - "Holy Hell" live at the Mercury Lounge
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