Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Terra Infirma

Juliette Lewis: Terra Incognita
[The End Records]

Here's a question for you: if I spent pretty much the entire length of this album pondering just how crazypants Juliette Lewis must be, does that make me crazypants too? Or does it just make me a special kind of masochistic? Of course, if I wasn't already nuts, I'm pretty sure suffering through this aural abomination sent me straight off the edge. God, it was awful. Awful.


Let me get the good bit out of the way first. It'll be short and sweet. Juliette's backing band? Those guys? They're good. I don't know if she just grabbed a bunch of session guys or actually formed a band, but they can play. The music itself was lovely and crisp, lots of heavy guitars and drums. Nice beats, well played, no problem there. There were numerous instances throughout my extended suffering where I wished that I could just erase her voice entirely, subbing in something not as grating. Or even better, just do without any singer and listen only to the backing track. I can't complain about the musicians that form her band at all.

Now. Juliette herself? Good God, y'all. It got to the point where I really wanted to hammer screwdrivers into my ears just to make the pain stop. I had to stop for listening for a bit to go do something else, and when I came back and a new song started, I exclaimed, “Oh good God there’s more?!” True story.

I very nearly just turned off the CD after track three and wrote this based entirely on the first three tracks. However, I told myself that I was the one who'd gotten me into this mess, so I owed it to... someone... to listen to the whole album. Give it a fair shot, I told myself. It might get better. Maybe it's just this one song.

Well, no. It wasn't just that one song. After about the seventh track, I stopped telling myself that, too.

I hate Juliette Lewis's voice. And I don't really like her music any better. She does this wail-rasp-whine thing that made me angrier with each passing song. And then she switched to this almost singing thing that was less raspy and more breathy, but put me in mind of her trying really hard to sound sweet and kinda lilting. Yet she failed. She failed a lot. Not only that, but the weird sorta-kinda hippieish Southerny thing that she was doing music-wise just didn’t fit with me. It felt like she was trying to be Janice Joplin. And honestly, I’ve never liked her music either. I can see Juliette doing a hippie thing with her music, despite her penchant for spandex when performing. She has that sort of vibe.

I tried; I really did try to give the album a fair shot. I thought about why I hated it so much as I was listening to it. It was hard to fight through my hatred though.

I thought a lot about whether or not this constitutes a vanity project on her part. And normally I’d say yes, of course it does. But for her, I don’t think it is. I think she really takes herself and her music way too seriously, and really feels like she’s making some sort of art. After all, this isn’t her first project. I wish I could just write it off as

I’m sure there are plenty of folks out there who would really enjoy this album. I am not one of them. It didn’t feel new or interesting or at all innovative. Beyond hating her voice, it just wasn’t an entertaining album. Nothing to see here, move along, folks.


Sean said...

Bad enough that no one's even bothered to put it on Grooveshark, evidently.

Nice review, Liz.

katy said...

I've always felt, in the words of Beck, that Juliette Lewis was the ultimate Nightmare Hippie Girl.