Tues Nov 9
320 SE 2nd Ave
Carey Mercer is always one feigned gasp away from hyperventilating. Wheezed and darting like an untied latex balloon, his voice slobberingly arrows toward strained falsetto with the frequency of his chord changes--which is to say, an awful lot. To describe Mercer's vocal affects as caterwauling would be a great disservice to the sheer ridiculousness of his delivery--a voice strange enough to propel at least three of the most refreshing records I've heard in a very long time.
The first time I heard Frog Eye's "One in Six Children Will Flee in Boats"--the song that leads off the Victoria, B.C. quartet's absolutely flawless sophomore effort The Golden River (which is, in my humblest of opinions, possibly the best record released last year)--I sort of panicked. It was about midday, and with nearly four hours left of my regular work day, I just got up from my desk and left. Walking a couple of miles to the nearest record store, I was denied in the "Misc. F" section, and thus hastily made my way to the next. Two stores later, I finally met my reward. My great reward.
The insular Canadian four-piece--who until recently were shrouded in the inadvertent secrecy of Northern Canada--have this year begun to fight for the larger spotlight with their Absolutely Kosher debut The Folded Palm and subsequent touring. Common convention has until recently pinned the band as a less than subtle Frankensteining of David Bowie (in its grandiose glow of pure aural redemption) and Tom Waits (for Mercer's impenetrable affectations and sonic self-mythology)--a description that, though accurate in spirit, is misleadingly marginalizing. With the release of The Folded Palm, however, the band has exploded the subtle, beautiful ephemera of their previous records in favor of short-bursting bombast. Clocking in just under a half hour, the 13 tracks of The Folded Palm find Mercer indulging his persona--attacking the music with affect turned up to 10. It's the closest he's come to capsizing the boat, but as usual, Frog Eyes has pulled off the impossible--transcending horror show gimmickry, and landing their third straight stroke of genius.