[11 February 2007]
As far as album titles go, Can Joann’s Hurt People Hurt People is a cool one. It has the condensed wit of a fortune cookie (as in, “He who has been hurt will indeed hurt others”), and its repetition could double as a command (“Hurt people! Hurt people!”). But as cool as the title is, Can Joann’s music is cooler. The band—consisting of the North Carolina quartet of Ryan Benjamin, Andrew Bernish, Cameron Kelly, and Joel Peck—specializes in lush, guitar-savvy compositions. Who would’ve imagined that a mid-tempo indie rock album recorded, at least in part, in a 19th century farmhouse would sound so polished? Well, it does, with the album’s two wholly instrumental numbers (the simmering “intro” and the mellow “Endure En Vogue”) being my favorite tracks. In fact, I’d probably prefer Can Joann as an instrumental rock quartet. It’s the lead singer’s powerful but sometimes off-beat monotone that threatens to undermine the lyricism. Lines like “I believe I’m getting less corrupt / Don’t mean I’ll never f*ck you up” sound unconvincing from a monotonous delivery. I can appreciate the contrast between the vocals and the buoyancy of the music, but the intricacies of the grooves are the clear winners. The best tracks are: the intro, “After the Seizure’s Gone”, “Dying on the Vine”, “Wine Colored Casket”, and “Endure En Vogue”. If you find Hurt People helpful, you might also look into Can Joann’s 1994 EP Aiden Grace.