Music

Andrea Maxand: Angel Hat

Jason MacNeil

Andrea Maxand

Angel Hat

Label: Montesano
US Release Date: 2002-05-03
Amazon
iTunes

From her earlier days with the Minerals, a Seattle-based indie-pop band, Andrea Maxand continues to forge a small but slowly widening fan base. With the help of Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie, Maxand released her debut album this past year with plans for a subsequent EP of material. The EP, unlike the album, will come complete with a full band and supporting cast. But judging by the first album, it appears there will be more on the way from an impressive vocalist. And hopefully all by her lonesome.

Having done nearly all of the instrumentation and arrangements for the nearly dozen songs presented, Maxand starts off with a simple yet infectious tone on the opening "Survival of the Sentiment". Using her electric guitar and especially her voice to carry the track's melody, the song deals with the end of a relationship and coming to the realization it's over. "Hey just let go and let deity have its way," she sings as the song's intensity deliberately rises without any percussion. Maxand's voice isn't exactly coffeehouse friendly, which is a bonus considering the glut of such musicians out there. Her voice has more Throwing Muses in it than Natalie Merchant.

"Velveteen" offers up more of the same but consists of a nice alternative rock rhythm through it. Maxand has a lot in common with Canadian indie-rock singer Julie Doiron. But where as Doiron tends to concentrate on more of a down-tempo or somber arrangements, Maxand goes the alternate route, taking a lemon and making sonic lemonade with it. "Distractions" has Maxand giving the listener brief theatrics with her voice and is all the better for it. The last portion of the song tends to be a bit monotonous though. Fortunately, "Spun" has a definite edge to it, seemingly ready to burst out into some pop rock concoction. Maxand's creates a tension in the song in the style of the Velvet Underground by refusing to give into a bombastic guitar solo. Samples and loops close the number out, but they add little.

The first hint of drums appear on "When God Shuts the Door" under Maxand's guitar. It's perhaps the album's highpoint as everything fits perfectly for nearly three minutes. Maxand sounds like she's in love with a harder sound and isn't keen on stopping just yet. The moody "Not Through Me" though doesn't work well because its mellowness and the almost spoken word delivery of the lyrics are somewhat annoying. Maxand gives a nice vocal for the song's latter half, but the early portion leaves a sour taste of what could have been throughout. "Keep Away" is the album's highpoint, as Maxand swerves between brief high and ethereal vocals and simple "ba da da" ad-libbing in some parts.

Maxand rarely shows his vocal array, but the lullaby vocals on "Peace on TV" are extremely soothing, despite the quirky and voyeuristic topic. "Could I make peace on TV?" she asks as over a naked but consistent guitar chord. Thankfully no loops or samples are added, leaving a less is more idea working quite well. One of the truer songs is "Whine and Shine", which deals with the mundane routine of everyday life, but also sheds some light on songwriter's block. "Who cares who your friends are rock star and shouldn't I have learned another song," she sings. Closing out with her own harmonies on "Penny", Maxand seems content moving between lullaby and ambitious alternative pop. It seems a fitting conclusion for an album of strong musicianship, songwriting, and ideas coming to fruition.

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Scholar Judith May Fathallah's work blurs lines between author and ethnographer, fan experiences and genre TV storytelling.

In Fanfiction and the Author: How Fanfic Changes Popular Culture Texts, author Judith May Fathallah investigates the progressive intersections between popular culture and fan studies, expanding scholarly discourse concerning how contemporary blurred lines between texts and audiences result in evolving mediated practices.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

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

rating-image