Music

Joan of Arc Presents: Don't Mind Control

Even though the title features Joan of Arc's trademark wordplay, this compilation of related projects is sorely lacking Tim Kinsella's off-key personality.


Joan of Arc

Don't Mind Control

Label: Polyvinyl
US Release Date: 2010-01-26
UK Release Date: import
Amazon
iTunes

Love him or hate him, Tim Kinsella is undeniably one of the most recognizable names to emerge from the densely populated Chicago music scene. Kinsella has remained a consistent pillar of polarization since forming freakshow indie-rockers Joan of Arc in 1995. Since then, Kinsella -- the perennial mad scientist among a cast of rotating musicians -- and his puerile yelp have become the most identifiable trait within Joan of Arc's always-evolving sound, dating back to the band's earliest incarnation as emo-leaning punk-rockers in Cap'n Jazz. However, on Don't Mind Control, Kinsella's overshadowing personality steps out of the spotlight and gives up the reins to the nebulous tribe of musicians lurking in the shadowy realm of the band's liner notes. The resulting mess proves that, if nothing else, Kinsella's lyrical vision -- or lack thereof -- has played a pretty integral role in unifying Joan of Arc into something more than just a boring, noisy art project.

That cohesiveness is noticeably lacking on Don't Mind Control, a scene compilation that finds Kinsella playing curator with a slew of bands who maintain some degree of attachment to Joan of Arc's crowded alumni roster. From glitchy electronic pastiches to swelling punk anthems to the Kinsella brothers' acoustic noodling, Don't Mind Control presents a combination of styles and genres that, even for Joan of Arc, takes aimlessness to new levels of perplexity. Considering Joan of Arc released a similar compilation back in 2005, Don't Mind Control only manages to function as either a second victory lap, an updated document of the band's sprawling range of ideas, or just an ironically titled promotional ploy.

Regardless of how you want to spin the rationale behind Don't Mind Control, though, the songs just don't carry enough weight to justify it. Without Kinsella coloring the space between every chord with his obtuse word play, most of the compilation's offerings aim for somewhere beneath the average music listener's attention span, and most hit the mark. From the Deerhunter-ripping pysch-trip of Birdshow's "Privacy" to Joshua Abram's meandering bass workout on "Blanes Echo Blirds, Bless Echo Blouds", not much on the recording is particularly memorable. Even Kinsella can't rescue these uninspired exercises in mediocrity with the two tracks on which he does appear. Granted, Euphone's jittering standout, "Friend in Common", features a refreshing dose of Kinsella's off-key enthusiasm. But under his own name, Kinsella phones in an acoustic tangent that will be all too familiar to anyone who had the misfortune of paying for a copy of Joan of Arc Presents Guitar Duets in 2005. Lackluster offerings from A Tundra, White/Light, and Jeremy Boyle don't help matters much either.

All that said, a compilation featuring other ex-Cap'n Jazz luminaries like Kinsella's brother, Mike, and Victor Villareal can't be all bad. And true to form, they mostly deliver here. Ghosts and Vodka lay down one hell of a hair-raising, schizophrenic jam with "Gameshow Buzzer", and Owen offers up his self-deprecating, sad-bastard best over chimes and a pretty guitar on "No More No Where". For what's it's worth, the vibraphone on Cale Park's "Long Looks" builds into a fairly compelling Aloha-style singalong, too. But like most of the free compilations that labels dole out at shows, Don't Mind Control lacks a discernible purpose beyond promotional exposure. And as bright as some of the compilation's creative flares might be, they never manage to justify erecting a banner for a Chicago scene that's best left in the shadows -- at least until the next Joan of Arc record.

3
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.

Music

Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.

Music

Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Film

Alastair Sim: A Very English Character Actor Genius

Alastair Sim belongs to those character actors sometimes accused of "hamming it up" because they work at such a high level of internal and external technique that they can't help standing out.

Music

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's New LP Is Lacking in Songcraft but Rich in Texture

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's The Mosaic of Transformation is a slightly uneven listen. It generally transcends the tropes of its genre, but occasionally substitutes substance for style.

Music

Buzzcocks' 1996 Album 'All Set' Sees the Veteran Band Stretching Out and Gaining Confidence

After the straightforward and workmanlike Trade Test Transmissions, Buzzcocks continued to hone their fresh identity in the studio, as exhibited on the All Set reissue contained on the new box-set Sell You Everything.

Books

Patrick Madden's 'Disparates' Makes Sense in These Crazy Times

There's no social distancing with Patrick Madden's hilarious Disparates. While reading these essays, you'll feel like he's in the room with you.

Music

Perfume Genius Purges Himself and It's Contagious

You need to care so much about your art to pack this much meaning into not only the words, but the tones that adorn and deliver them. Perfume Genius cares so much it hurts on Set My Heart on Fire Immediately.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Confinement and Escape: Emma Donoghue and E.L. Doctorow in Our Time of Self-Isolation

Emma Donoghue's Room and E.L. Doctorow's Homer & Langley define and confront life within limited space.

Books

Political Cartoonist Art Young Was an Aficionado of all Things Infernal

Fantagraphics' new edition of Inferno takes Art Young's original Depression-era critique to the Trump White House -- and then drags it all to Hell.

Music

Folk's Jason Wilber Examines the World Through a Futurist Lens in 'Time Traveler' (album stream)

John Prine's former guitarist and musical director, Jason Wilber steps out with a new album, Time Traveler, featuring irreverent, pensive, and worldly folk music.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.