US - California - Full Moon 106 - 05/23/05
Mia Doi Todd
I was first taken with her voice a few years back in Dntel's song "Anywhere Anyone", and now she's here in 2005 with a brand new LP. I've heard that she's spotty on record, but I'm a big sucker for the sound of her voice in that song. NPR reviewed this album: give it a listen here if you're so inclined. It's funny cause while NPR can afford to have Ms. Todd in their studio for an in-review interview, the critic can't afford to actually talk about the music. All he says is that it's "hypnotic and moving". Oh well, that's why Luna Kafé is here! (I kid NPR. The review contains some good info, you should give it a listen.)
The album opens with a song called "The Way". It's a darkly heavy opening. And it's certainly nothing light that she is talking about. Addressing the depressing, life-ruining current affairs of our day, she is able to take you away at times. The sound of her band seems as though it could really be doing more, however. This is the type of thing that can make or break an album like this. It can't just be her and her beautiful bird-song up there without some meat on the bones of the band. I do commend the guitar solo.
"What if We Do" starts with a sample-worthy drum solo. But then the song starts to sound too vanilla when the band comes in. And unfortunately, without "The Way"'s more shocking subject matter, Todd's melodies simply don't carry. In a good move, however, this song is allowed to remain short and works as such. "My Room is White" just doesn't save, however. Mia Doi Todd's voice is the last element to let down here, falling itself after the sound of the band and her melodies fail to protect it. It seems exposed to me now as a total Joni Mitchell knock-off. All you're left is with some good lyric writing, but that's not music, that's poetry. "The tide comes in and we're caught by the rocks and the wetness. Never endless. We kiss for the first time, our lips and tongues tied in fitness, infiniteness." That's really nice, but can't carry an album.
It's totally coincidental because I didn't find this information until after I'd nearly finished the review, but one of my most hated bands from this year,
Dead Meadow, who I think are a let's-pretend-we-can-play-like-hendrix, 60s cover band, guestspot. Just perfect. I'll let NPR's target American audience of old hippies who have jobs and children now keep this one. I have too much personal time on my hands to listen to Manzanita. In principal I still love her voice, but this isn't much of an album if you ask me. Perhaps ditch the lite-rock band and do more electronic collaborations?
Copyright © 2005 Eugene Ward