Joan of Arc is an eclectic and prolific band from Chicago. The line up over the years has changed a lot, but the one continuous thread has been the front man/main songwriter, Tim Kinsella. Since their 1996 debut, A PORTABLE MODEL OF... Joan of Arc has been making really off-beat, lovable music. Before the advent of JOA, the forerunner of the band was a little combo called Cap'n Jazz, a band that featured Tim Kinsella, Victor Villarreal, Mike Kinsella (Tim's Brother) as well as Sam Zurick and eventually Davey von Bohlen. This would be the core of several incarnations of Joan of Arc - Victor and Sam have played on several JOA albums; Villarreal even played on their most recent release (and a very good one at that), LIFE LIKE and Sam as well, has been in and out of the band on various albums. Mike Kinsella has also been in and out of the band too - on a couple albums he's played on all tracks and on others he's credited with playing drums and/or guitar on just a few tracks. But Mike's also made an album with the legendary band American Football, who released one really awesome self-titled album back in the early part of the 2000s, but he also has been making CDs under the name OWEN for the past 10 years or so, beginning with OWEN, then NO GOOD FOR NO ONE NOW, a couple EPs, then my personal favorite, I DO PERCEIVE, AT HOME WITH OWEN, NEW LEAVES and his latest, GHOST TOWN. Owen will be playing a gig in San Diego on Aug 16 at the Irenic Club in North Park with fellow labelmates, Braid (Polyvinyl Records).
Anyone who is unfamiliar with the greatness of JOA as well as Cap'n Jazz and Owen (and American Football too) should really check out just about any JOA CD - but, if you were to ask me, I'd recommend IN TERROR SEX AND RAPE FANTASY WE TRUST, THE GAP, JOAN OF ARC, DICK CHENEY, MARK TWAIN, LIVE IN CHICAGO: 1999 (which is not a live album, but a great studio release) as well as their latest, LIFE LIKE (there are many more to choose from as well). Anyway, as for some great songs worth mentioning, let me say that "Happy 1984 and 2001" is really catchy (from IN TERROR SEX AND RAPE FANTASY WE TRUST); also the first cut on LIFE LIKE, "I Saw the Messed Binds of My Generation", a 10-minute long, cathartic, raucous number, one they opened their May 16, 2011 concert at the Casbah, in San Diego with. I just happened to be one of the only about 50-60 people in the audience. For some reason they don't have a huge following out here on the West Coast - or at least in dull, boring San Diego. But the show that night was very memorable and I got some great photos as I was there in my capacity as a music reviewer - I took excellent shots and wrote up a great review for it as well. There was nothing negative to put in the article, the show went off just perfectly. They had no problems, Tim was funny and acerbic, making light banter between songs as well as poking fun at a member of the audience who shouted something about the cover of an Owls' song (also an offshoot of JOA) - he said something about it being "financially wise" to do it or something silly like that, to which Tim gave a cutting reply. Anyway, the show was good and loud - really loud, especially for such a small place as the Casbah. It was a very good night.
If you want to sit and deconstruct some songs and their lyrics, Joan of Arc is definitely an apt band to start with - Tim & Co. write some very interesting lyrics, sometimes politically or socially charged, other times, introverted and sometimes just plain dada-esque. Enjoy...Kent M.
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