Saturday, August 26, 2017

A Good Thing Going: A Quick Review Of The New One From Jad Fair (Half Japanese), Tenniscoats, And Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub)

I somehow didn't hear about this one when it first dropped but I am thoroughly a fan of this record now. Raindrops by Jad Fair, Tenniscoats, and Norman Blake, out now on Joyful Noise Recordings, is an expansive, double-album of material from one member of Half Japanese, one member of Teenage Fanclub, and Japanese band Tenniscoats. That the record sounds little like a Half Japanese or Teenage Fanclub record is worth mentioning up front. However, what's on offer here is expansive and bold indie-pop that largely succeeds on the strength of the various players involved.

On songs like "My Heart Has Wings" and "I Know That We Can", Jad Fair delivers the main vocal-lines in a manner that does suggest his stuff with Half Japanese, but it's a brief and rough comparison as the loose instrumentation from Tenniscoats and Blake allows this material to expand and take on an improvisational vibe. The 23 cuts here make up a double-album's haul of music and, for the most part, the most notable tunes here have a nice, gentle sense of musical urgency, like the nearly-unfinished "Sudden Ghost" or the lovely and understated title cut. Elsewhere, the pretty and lilting "How's Your Summer" sees Saya of Tenniscoats take over most of the vocals with Fair providing simple back-up. An adventurous listener will find it easy to wade through this wealth of material as some cuts sort of go off in some unexpected directions and some others, like "Powerful Love", shine in a way that's sure to please fans of these acts, and fans of good indie-pop in general. Loose, relaxed, and subtle, the 23 songs here on Raindrops are unlike so much of what you're going to hear these days but they are, on the whole, little bursts of expertly performed and crafted pop that will bring a smile to any listener's face.

Raindrops by Jad Fair, Tenniscoats, and Norman Blake is the rarest of records: one that doesn't insist upon itself and one that allows plenty of space for the players involved to find melodies and hooks in unexpected places. Raindrops is out now via Joyful Noise Recordings.