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The Intelligent Design of Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

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Album Review

Joan of Arc issued two albums in 2006 to celebrate the band's ten year anniversary. The album of new material, Eventually, All at Once showcases the sound developed after 2004's beatifically dark In Rape Fantasy and Terror Sex We Trust. This one, The Intelligent Design of Joan of Arc (these guys have never exactly been humble) collects rare tracks from singles, compilations, split 12" tracks, and Japan-only comps. There are 19 selections here going all the way back to the beginning with the three-song Method & Sentiment single issued on Jade Tree in 1996. This trio of songs pointed toward the fully blown abstractions Joan of Arc would develop on their full-lengths in the years to come. It doesn't really work, but it is interesting in retrospect. Way more fun are the fully constructed tunes "Busy Bus, Sunny Sun" and "Stemingway and Heinbeck," which were issued on the Southern label in the same year. The electronic blow-out tracks these yobs were spitting out like "I'm Sorry I Got So Drunk Before My Solo Set in Tokyo," and "My Girlfriend Dropped Me After the Free Trip to Japan" — bonus cuts on a limited-run Japanese EP — just bend the brain around the corner a little too far. It's good they're here. The giddy little accusation-filled cabaret ballad "Please Don't Mistake My Arrogance for Shyness," which was part of a split 7" with Rabbit Rabbit, is here too. The five cuts which make up Joan of Arc's half of Joan of Arc/Bundini Brown [Split Single] are the highlights, though. This is the fractured, meandering kind of post-rock experimentalism that has seen full flower on their last couple of albums with songs like "For a Half-Deaf Girl Named Echo," "George Oh Well (Stand Up and Clap)," "For the Skinheads and Hippies," "You Say Tornaydo and I Say Tornahdo," and the wonderfully titled "Kissinger's Lament When Some Young Bunny or Bildeberg Whore Kicks Him Out of Bed for Snoring (In the Key of Me)." Those fans who were not fortunate enough to get these tracks when they first appeared may not have the packaging they came in, but at least they have the music now. But let's face it, this is a for-fans-only deal — that's why Joan of Arc issued two records simultaneously — give 'em something new as well as something old. It works. The fact remains that a slab like this is terribly useful in seeing how a group evolves, distills, explores and just flat out blows it in the process of becoming a band with its own way of doing things. Recommended.


Formed: 1996 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Based on their roots and their hometown, it's not surprising that Chicago's Joan of Arc blend post-rock's atmospherics and punk's volume and dynamics. Singer/guitarist Tim Kinsella, drummer Mike Kinsella, and bassist Sam Zurick came from the emocore band Cap'n Jazz; when that band broke up, the trio wanted to change their musical direction. They did just that when they started playing with keyboardist/guitarist Jeremy Boyle and guitarist Erik...
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The Intelligent Design of Joan of Arc, Joan of Arc
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