New Music - Jim White
My only familiarity with the music of Jim White before hearing his latest, Transnormal Skiperoo, was his 2001 album No Such Place. After reading quite a few fawning European reviews I had decided to check it out - and I enjoyed about half of it. There were a handful of very interesting folk-noir standouts, and a few songs whose, well, weirdness, were lost on me. A few years later I ignorantly ignored 2004’s follow-up Drill A Hole In That Substrate And Tell Me What You See, despite again reading some very positive British reviews and enjoying the only song I heard from it - “Static On The Radio”.
So it was with some unwarranted reservation that I listened when this new one found its way to my inbox the other day. Being a product of David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label might explain some of that weirdness that creeps through these dark, near-whispered stories, but I can’t help but notice a stronger sense of melody working here than on previous efforts (or, at least, the previous efforts I’m familiar with), as well as more fleshed out, interactive aural settings.
The 12 songs on Transnormal Skiperoo work together sonically to create their own little minor-key universe. It's a haunting, soulful place where White’s stories (rife with oddball characters and religious imagery) and hushed vocals meet up with his band’s spacious (and spacey) arrangements. “Crash Into The Sun” might be the best thing I’ve yet heard from the man - a spry, bluesy tune with plenty of horns and some fun call-and-response background vocals. Album opener “A Town Called Amen”, with a few less bells and whistles, could easily pass for a long lost classic from Townes Van Zandt. Good stuff indeed. Transnormal Skiperoo is out now.
MP3 :: A Town Called Amen
MP3 :: Crash Into The Sun
(from Transnormal Skiperoo. Stream the album here. Buy here)