I wrote about Joplin Rice's Low Hum a few months ago, but Rice edged in another 2015 release at almost the last second. Rice has melancholy down to a fine art. Where Low Hum saw Rice alone in his bedroom crooning ballads to an acoustic guitar, Hurricane Alaska finds him alone in his bedroom with the magic of multi-tracking. The full band sound suits Rice: he has a strong power pop sensibility that calls to mind Athens, GA ca. the early '90s. It allows his plaintive voice and lyrics about isolation become lost in a swell of cheerful song, which ultimately drives his point home even more.
For better or worse, the layered music obfuscates Rice's pointed lyrics. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though -- it serves to soften the blow. When you hear
if you ask me out i probably won't go
even though you're beautiful//don't act like you don't know
'cause you don't need to be look-aftering
while the rest of your life should be happening
so give me bourbon in a cup
give me somewhere to throw up
give me pictures in the sky
give me someone i can fight
'cause you should be somewhere disastering
with someone else who doesn't understand what that can mean
float through the distorted guitars, maybe after your third listen, you'll find yourself good and sucker-punched. Hurricane Alaska is a sobering album -- or at least one for sobering up -- but it might be the right kind of bitter medicine to drink when you're in a funk.
Joplin Rice -- Facebook, Bandcamp, info on his alter-ego Ezra Triste