As promised last Wednesday, today's post is on Jon Fink's (of The New Wave Dirt) side project Jon of the Atom. I unexpectedly received this album is my mailbox in a sort of unofficial album swap that occured between myself and Jon, both mine and his being pseudo-side-projects of the bands we're currently in.
Similar sounding to NWD's "The Apple", Jon takes his solo project in a trippier and more electronic direction. His distinct voice is still there innocently creeping into your skull. The instrumental "The April Fool Song" is sort of Portishead-esque with a very synthetic drumbeat, and immediately following is "Bicycle", which my first description of was that it was a song that Jon would be singing to an adult who is tripping balls, laying in an oversized crib crying about his imaginary bicycle being stolen.
There's three cover songs on the album: Beck, Woody Guthrie and D. Johnson, and besides those self proclaimed influences I hear a little bit of the Olivia Tremor Control, a pinch of Pinback, and some Middle of Nowhere, New York country blues. The last two tracks are unlisted, "I'm a Hard Working Pearl Diver" (which was on NWD's first release "Elephants Tap Dance Recital (Cozy Home Records)" and a magnificent cover of The Microphones "I Felt Your Shape", another influence that can be heard: off time strumming, crazy panning, and fuzzy drum beats.
Most distinguishing for me is Jon's voice. On anything that's come my way from his direction the quality of vocal recording is just phenomenal. Almost in the way that Robert Schneider commented that he was most pleased with how we captured Jeff Mangum's voice for Neutral Milk Hotel, I feel that Jon's voice is recorded in such a way that absolutely captures the emotion that you would hear if you were spying on him while he was playing the song alone in his room. Sometimes it's off key, sometimes it's off time, sometimes there's two vocal tracks singing in octaves...no matter what, its up front, its incredibly clear considering Jon's drawling sort of Thom York-ish drone; innocent, wanting, and sometime downright eerie. He is up there on my list of favorite distinct voices, including: Willy Mason, Jeff Mangum, Ramona Cordova and Thom Yorke.
I couldn't help but put four mp3s up, I know its a lot, but I could'nt choose between them. Other tracks I would highly recommend are: his cover of the Microphones "I Felt Your Shape", the instrumental "April Fool Song" and the 12th song of the seemingly 11 track disc, "I'm A Hardworking Pearl Diver".
Here's Jon: www.myspace.com/jonoftheatom
Here's Jon and Megan Geiss: www.myspace.com/thenewwavedirt
mp3: Church Bell People
mp3: A Ride Without A Fair
Bonus mp3: I Ain't Got Nobody (Woddy Guthrie)
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