Polly PUt The Kettle On - One Man Screamed
Year: August, 2008
01. Complicated Mess 4:32
02. Angst 4:20
03. Walk With You 2:23
04. Burned Appendages 3:57
05. Power 4:22
06. My Crime 5:41
07. Angel 4:10
08. Same Mistakes 4:40
09. Crystal Ball 6:04
10. Rescued 3:42
11. Better Than I Am 3:59
J.C. Simonsen is the man behind Polly PUt The Kettle On, literally. J.C. handles all songwriting, production and arrangements as well as providing vocals and instrumentation, hence the name of the CD One Man Screaming. This CD is a hybrid collection of carefully-crafted rock, funk and grunge that plays well. The most important pieces of the making of a successful indie act are in place, not the least of which is immeasurable talent. Simonsen handles all aspects of the production of this effort very well, and at times he is way above the norm. "One Man Screaming" is a slow-burning under-the-radar grower that gets better and better with each play.
From the offset this is a very heavy yet understated rock record - somewhat maudlin and contemplative, a man alone with his thoughts and observations. Simonsen meticulously sculpts a reverberant lo-fi soundscape, it's repressed emotion bubbling beneath the surface. Complicated Mess, Power, My Crime, and Better Than I Am take the sound that is Polly PUt The Kettle On into epic, forward-thinking territory. Indeed, Complicated Mess is the finest track on the CD, combining elements of rock and grunge with a hipster, shoegaze sound. It carries the downtrodden, acoustic singer/songwriter appeal that is a personal favorite of mine and Simonsen owns it and works it in effortless fashion. I am not sure how to explain it, but there is a hazy, hungover feeling to Complicated Mess that is it's strength here.
Angel is another gem on this disc. It is musically more uptempo than the other songs but Simonsen does well to keep it constrained enough so as not to disrupt the dark and brooding mood of the entire disc. This is fully accomplished through his lyrics "you're like an angel fallen down from the sky/I see the fire burn in your eyes/A child of heaven with an arrow in your side/so now you've come to die". The arrangement on this song is heightened through rhythm and voice, evolving into an almost progressive improvisation. Simonsen stands out vocally, showing more range than on any of the other songs.
On Same Mistakes, Simonsen adds a modern twist to guitar work that is a reminder of Neil Young's electric work with Crazy Horse. At various moments there is an almost electric-folk feel to the song, but again, the inhibited angst finds its way to the forefront, giving a foreboding presence that segues well into the following number, Crystal Ball.
Brilliantly, Crystal Ball starts as a dark and brooding stunner that casts an affront on hiding the truth and ascends in tone and demeanor as truth is revealed and the vague subtleties between the two are exposed. The reversal in mood here works well and again Simonsen gives the song a somewhat progressive feel.
We've all had the dream where we are trying to scream but nothing comes out. Indeed, the loudest scream is often the one we never hear. Like the dream, Simonsen has mimicked that feeling of restrained emotion looking for an amplified outlet by going somewhat beyond limited genre labels. Very much solitary music, One Man Screaming is the kind of record that plays well at times of emotional apathy. If you are feeling like you've had enough and just a little road-weary, put this on and try not to be impressed as that wry smile that says "Yeah, I relate" purses your lips. J.C. Simonsen, aka Polly PUt The Kettle On, is on to something here.
-- Michael Canter (www.sonicjive.com)