"Stop what you're doin'/ 'Cause I'm about to ruin/ The image and the
style that you're used to." That's not how Edith Frost's Telescopic
kicks off; it's the first line from the Digital Underground's "Humpty Dance."
But wouldn't it be something to hear Frost get dirty on the mike?
Nah, instead of a Fear of a Black Planet for
1998, Frost has come down from her Chicago-y heaven to provide the world
with a collection of sparkling pop trax and sentimental ballads. The rockin'
opener, "Walk On The Fire," is a subtly bluesy-- and extremely catchy-- chunk
of indie pop. With its backwards guitar parts, amplified violins, lo-fi drumset
and irresistible melody, the song sounds like the demon child of Liz Phair and
the Olivia Tremor Control. And that's just one of the 12 incredibly diverse
tracks Telescopic has to offer.
But Frost veers off in multiple directions on this outing, her songs drawing
comparisons to people like Patsy Cline ("The Very Earth"), fellow Chicagoans the
Handsome Family ("Light," "You Belong To No One"), and early Neil Young ("Bluish
Bells"). And looking at the "What's On My Stereo" section of Edith's website,
it all becomes clear-- her taste in music ranges from the dark experimentalism
of Godspeed You Black Emperor and Laurie Anderson to self- loathing folk stuff
like Elliott Smith and Lisa Germano.
Yeah, you're probably going to read some reviews that lump Edith Frost in with
modern folkies like Mary Lou Lord, Chan Marshall of Cat Power, Barbara
Manning, Smog's Bill Callahan, and the Silver Jews' D.C. Berman-- an insight
that's not entirely inaccurate. But Telescopic demonstrates Frost's
unique ability to add incredible depth to simple song structures. Take the
sorrowful ballad "Tender Kiss" for example-- all she really needed was an
acoustic guitar and vocal part to nicely execute the track. Instead, she
brought in a somewhat complicated Casio keyboard tango drum patch, a
subtle vocal harmony, a flute of some kind, and a mourning violin. Sound
overblown? Remarkably, the song remains sparse- sounding and beautiful.
So, even if we didn't get the rap masterpiece we've been hoping for this
year (let's face it-- that Pras record was just plain bad), we did get
another great slice of well- produced contemporary folk-pop from Edith
Frost and the folks down at Drag City Records. Predictable.
"Walk On The Fire"
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