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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Blood Is Clean

Rating: 7.2/10 ?

April 18, 2007
Like Apple Martin, Grizzly Adams, and River Phoenix before her, Honey Owens has one of those names that precedes her persona. It is only natural to imagine the musician as a cotton candy-sweet pop starlet or a veteran lady of blues (like Koko Taylor or something). Given Owens' moniker, Valet, and a smattering of nondescript song titles ("Mystic Flood" or "Tame All The Lions"), it becomes easier to believe that her debut album could be readily described as subtle, personal, and experimental.

But the music of Blood Is Clean leaves little to such guessing games. Each numbered track is less like a song and more like a moment in Owens' creative lifespan, with sounds paralleling growing experiences and vocals vibrantly wavering as if emotional sensations. The recording process that fleshed out these eight mood-tunes was a series of single straight takes, with some of the final mixes including sporadic punch-ins for additional tracking. Owens cites Haitian voodoo music and Velvet Underground as some of her intrigues, and certainly in cuts "April" and "Blood Is Clean" one can hear the ghost of Nico's self-taught style, along with eerie makeshift tribal shakers and conga drums.

It is an overall spontaneity that makes this album distinguishable and extremely organic, as in "My Volcano" when Owens becomes lost in the repetitive and breathy chants of her freeform lyrics. During this time, Blood Is Clean's sound portrays the relationship between light and a mirror ball: a focused beam directed onto a constantly oscillating form, with jutting glints of light dancing about here and there. "My Volcano," as many of the album's other tracks, is centered upon the whirring flow of a droning chord (either from guitar or organ). For brief spans Valet is the exploration of what kind of euphony can be found when combining pedal effects, an electric guitar, a sampler, and an open mind.

Much of Blood Is Clean falls nicely in line with what people typically seek with avant garde, especially experimental, music. Tracks such as "North," the 13-minute closer, are based on productive extemporizing and finding noises. Compositions like this do not rely on pattern, rhythm, nor technicality, and many listeners need these conventions to have music appeal to them. Valet is an expression of one person's eccentric artistic palette, and sits high in the mood-sounds category.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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