Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard: "One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Kerouac's Big Sur" (album review)

It's hard to find a reference for Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard's forthcoming album One Fast Move or I'm Gone (out October 20th).  The album sees the unlikely pairing of the Son Volt and Death Cab For Cutie frontmen creating music inspired by and based on Jack Kerouac's novel Big Sur.  The closest thing we've had in recent memory is Lou Reed's well-intentioned but ill-fated The Raven, an album based on the poem by Edgar Allen Poe.

The two projects may spring from a similar inspiration, they are very different in execution.  Reed's The Raven is far broader in terms of the styles and experimentation that goes on over the course of the album.  That lead to tracks that may have held great artistic merit, which were often unbearable for fans.

One Fast Move suffers from the opposite affliction.  The songs are often too safe.  Tracks like "Breathe Our Iodine", "Big Sur", "Final Hours", and "Void" are country-based numbers so subdued they are nearly comatose.  They could definitely benefit from an injection of sonic exploration.

The Farrar/Gibbard album is overwhelmingly grounded in Farrar's domain.  That works well on "These Roads Don't Move" with the duo forming lovely twangy harmonies.  When it is at its best and most engaging however, is when Gibbard more indie rock influence creeps in.  The more modern sounding elements breathe life into tracks like "All In One".

In the end One Fast Move is a far more accessible album than The Raven.  Unfortunately too often it's accessible to the point of being dull and sterile.

Best tracks: "All In One", "One Fast Move or I'm Gone"

Track listing for One Fast Move or I'm Gone:

  • California Zephyr
  • Low Life Kingdom
  • Williamine
  • All In One
  • Breathe Our Iodine
  • These Roads Don't Move
  • Big Sur
  • One Fast Move or I'm Gone
  • Final Horrors
  • Sea Engines
  • Void
  • San Francisco

One Fast Move website

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