Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc, Dick Cheney, Mark Twain... (Polyvinyl)

Condensing the depth and complexity of a Joan of Arc record into a terse string of words is impossible. Instead, please accept this list of half-assed associations. This disc's opener, "Questioning Benjamin Franklin's Ghost," is an out-of-whack tap dance of piano, cello and babbling that revisits the crankier side of the late-'70s Rough Trade catalogue (Red Krayola, Robert Wyatt) while meditating on the identity of identity of itself. "Abigail, Cops and Animals" uses a tonal replica of the intro to Queen's "You're My Best Friend" to reconfigure the pig-baiting sentiment of Black Flag's "Police Story." But the definitive moment of Joan of Arc, Dick Cheney, Mark TwainŠ is, aptly, "The Title Track of This Album," a spoken-word spasm of solipsism that shivers with pricks of static and acute self-awareness. Sure, the album was mixed by John McEntire of Tortoise, and Joan of Arc contains former members of the legendary art-emo outfit Cap'n Jazz. But Dick Cheney is that rare type of record that spins its own context, that creates -- and then instantly obliterates -- its own genre.
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