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White Hinterland


(Dead Oceans; US: 21 Oct 2008; UK: Available as import)

Casey Deinel just won’t sit still. After releasing just one album under her own name, she ditched the solo career in favor of starting White Hinterland. And the first full-band release marked a much more lush and intricate sound for her, wrapping her pristine melodies in jazzy warmth. And now with a new White Hinterland EP, Luniculaire, Deinel has given up on the English language.

Okay, probably not forever. But this EP is sung entirely in French, and features covers of French singers like Serge Gainsbourg, though she amazingly penned some of these songs herself in her second language. But language is not the only departure on this EP. From first to last, these songs are a good deal more experimental than the first White Hinterland record. The clanking and groaning of guitars shape the awkwardly chunky “Requiem Pour Un Con”. “Mon Ami La Rose” shows Deinel as a sultry torch singer, but pits her aching vocals against the squeaking notes of a stubbornly off-kilter violin. “Lunirascible” sounds the closest to what we’ve heard from Deinel before, with the inclusion of big horns still working as a nice departure.

But its telling that “Lunirascible” is the song that works the best. The entire EP is charming and interesting as it tests the waters of new sounds. But it also avoids Deinel’s natural knack for catchy melodies and her usually loose song structures become a little too loose here. They don’t fall apart, but they come close. So while White Hinterland stumbles on some good new sounds with Luniculaire, they do well to mesh them with some of their old ones.


Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.

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