Music

Rebekah Higgs: Odd Fellowship

Enio Chiola

Higgs' sophomore follow-up is a pretty good album that suffers from the fate of unoriginal ubiquity.


Rebekah Higgs

Odd Fellowship

Label: Hidden Pony
US Release Date: 2011-08-23
UK Release Date: 2011-08-23
Amazon
iTunes

Rebekah Higgs – a singer-songstress from Halifax, Canada – begins her sophomore album with the eerie “Little Voice”. The track begins innocently enough, but slowly turns sour. It’s a tortured song of deep-rooted insanity disguised as a sweet little love song. It begins: “There’s a busy bee / Humming merrily / And your little voice / Sings the melody / You’re the only one who loves me / Full on”. Complete with “bum, bah, bahs” the track plays out with creeping intensity until the last thirty seconds whereupon Higgs repeats the line: “You’re the only one / Who loves me / Full on”. It might not hit you right away, but with multiple listens, that line, repeated in the manner it is, becomes frighteningly off-putting. It’s the kind of psychotic moment that most folk artists dare not tread. Although there’s a possibility that this eeriness was completely unintentional, “Little Voice” stands as a great album opener to a fairly impressive follow-up solo effort.

The entire album is pleasant enough to get through. It will even tempt you to indulge in a few more listens, but ultimately stalls beyond its superior opening track. “Gosh, Darn, Damn” is a catchy number that unfortunately suffers from some pretty bad lyrics like: “I keep my chin up so I don’t look so sad / Even when I’m feeling bad / ‘Cause you found another gal”. The bad lyrics don’t linger throughout the record, but occasionally you’ll get a strong whiff of lines that could have been articulated in a more poetic manner.

Ultimately, Odd Fellowship suffers the fate of unoriginal ubiquity, which can be easily mistaken for every other Tom, Dick and Jenny Lewis out there. It’s unfortunate, because Rebekah has some definite appeal, but, unfortunately, there’s nothing here to magnify that appeal into something uniquely discernable. There’s not much that you can point to that gives the impression she’s beginning to embark upon a magnificent musical career filled with notoriety and recognition. As astute a songwriter as she can sometimes be, very few boundaries are pushed, or circumvented. Perhaps the one well-calculated divergence comes from “Shoop” (no, it’s not a cover of either Salt-n-Pepa’s seminal hip hop track or the Whitney Houston disaster). It’s a French-language quirky number with butterfly vibraphones, looped vocal tracks, and spacey psychedelic synths and guitars. More tracks like this could single out Higgs as the new emerging Björk-esque ingénue. But sadly, this is only one track in the entire album, and could very likely be a fluke. Odd Fellowship, despite its many fumbles, is a pretty good new album from a veritable talent that you will ultimately forget about in two months’ time.

6

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7
Music

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image