Music

Enon: High Society

Carolyn Kellogg

Enon

High Society

Label: Touch & Go
US Release Date: 2002-06-04
Amazon
iTunes

In Enon, indie rock stops staring at its shoes and turns up the synths, the grooves, and the volume. The CD comes out of the gate with "Old Dominion", a fuzzed-out love child of Black Sabbath and David Bowie. As they trip through a kit bag of styles, you'll sit up and take notice.

Enon was founded by John Schmersal, guitar player for Brainiac. After a handful of independent CDs, Brainiac was poised on the brink -- they had a nice label contract in the works -- when their lead singer died in car crash. Schmersal moved from Ohio to New York and started over, hooking up with the rhythm section of Skeleton Key, a band that never went quite as far as some expected. Schmersal began making synthetic sounds of all sorts for a rollicking kitchen-sink sound on their first record, Believo!

The lineup morphed for High Society, retaining just Schmersal and Skeleton Key's bang-on-junk percussionist Rick Lee. The addition of Toko Yasuda (formerly of Lapse and Blonde Redhead) on vocals, bass and synth brings a new sweetness to their sound. By the time they began touring with this record, Lee had left he band in the vastly capable percussion hands of Matt Schultz.

This jigsaw-puzzle lineup could sink a band, but Enon's rubbery style stretches so everything fits. Dig-it rhythms are underscored by synthesizers driving then tinny, trilling and groovy. Schmersal's vocals are thin and strained, but malleable: in "Pleasure and Privelige" his manic near-shouting is oh so Devo, but he whispers like Elliott Smith in "High Society" and croons like Bowie all over the place.

And while they may be individually all over the map, each song holds together complete and unique. The kickoff, that explosive "Old Dominion", blasts with commanding, saturated rock. Here the guiding hand of recording engineer Eli Janney (Girls Against Boys) may show the most strongly -- to good effect. The heavy guitars and pummeling percussion are loaded with both a sexual drive and rock 'n' roll fun.

The straightforward "Window Display" is so fully realized it sounds like it's already been a radio hit. And so does "Sold!", with perky and swirling synths hitching a ride with a simple guitar line.

When Yasuda is on the mic, the tones are clear and sweet, and her slight Japanese accent is positively charming. "In This City" glides on a low-key groove. "Shoulder" lurches along with slow hot-and-bothered rhythm, sparkling with a bright array of synth intrusions.

"These days we sound more like a band," Schmersal says. "More straightforward, more rock." Which is absolutely true, but relative. If you listen to a lot of Korn, the rock won't sounds very hard; if you love Paul McCartney's post-Wings work, you'll be thinking "wacko" in place of "straightforward". But for those who are cozy with Beck or Girls Against Boys or the Flaming Lips, Enon makes a hell of a lot of sense.

This CD was ready for release by their previous label (SeeThru Broadcasting) which suffered an untimely demise. Some time passed before things worked out with Touch & Go, leading to the lineup change. "I have always preferred bands that try to do something different with each record," Schmersal says. Not only can we expect more of something different from the next record; what you see on the road won't be quite High Society, either. But judging by the band's trajectory, odds are wherever they go, things will just keep getting better.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

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

rating-image