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New releases from Joan of Arc, Dolcetti, and The Jigsaw Seen 

Sound Advice

click to enlarge Joan of Arc
  • Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

He's Got the Whole This Land Is Your Land in His Hands

Joyful Noise

File next to: Braid, Ought, Pere Ubu

Chicago's Tim Kinsella and his brother Mike formed many bands over 20 years, but Joan of Arc is the repository for their most overly intellectual and self-absorbed work. While detractors may view the band's latest release, He's Got the Whole This Land Is Your Land in His Hands, as particularly annoying, they overlook the album's humor and light touch. Kinsella's latest collaborator, guitarist and backing vocalist Melina Ausikaitis, brings a loose, countrified touch to Joan of Arc. When a song titled "This Must Be the Placenta" offers a line like, "I've had a 26-year-old girlfriend since I turned 11," the absurdity is explicit. Overall, the album is dissonant, sloppy and weird, but one excuses Kinsella for the rants on "F Is for Fake" in the same way one excuses Pere Ubu's David Thomas for just about anything. — LW

click to enlarge Dolcetti
  • Dolcetti

Dolcetti

Arriver

629441 Records DK

File next to: Frank Zappa, Steve Vai, Jimmy Herring

Arriver is instrumental progressive/art rock of the most accessible variety. Dizzyingly fast guitar runs, turn-on-a-dime drum lines and thunderous yet agile bass guitar all come together to create music that is surprisingly hook-filled. Also, humor — a quality that's all too often lacking in prog — is served up by this Italian duo in copious quantities. Dolcetti spins out catchy tune after catchy tune, and there's very little in the way of musical pretense. The duo's judicious use of keyboards adds to the ear-candy nature of the tunes. Some of them cheerfully lumber, dinosaur fashion, like "Idea effe." But unexpected bursts of pig-squeal guitar — and Zappa-esque tuned percussion — puncture any serious air, much like the punch line at the end of a joke. Instro-prog rarely manages such a fine balance of technique and widespread appeal. — BK

click to enlarge The Jigsaw Seen
  • The Jigsaw Seen

The Jigsaw Seen

For the Discriminating Completist

Burger Records

File next to: Baby Lemonade, The Who

Laboring just below the radar for more than a quarter century, Los Angeles-based The Jigsaw Seen have been releasing consistently satisfying records since their 1990 debut, Shortcut Through Clown Alley. The group's body of work shows its musical inventiveness and effective synthesis of a wide array of influences. They've never had a proper major hit — although they did earn a spot on Rhino's Children of Nuggets box set — but this new compilation does serve well as both a kind of greatest (non-) hits and, as the title suggests, a tidy odds-and-sods collection. Group mainstays Jonathan Lea and primary songwriter Dennis Davison have a knack for creating high-octane tunes that emphasize the power in power pop. For the Discriminating Completist is filled with undiscovered gems. With any luck, the title of the opening track "The Best Is Yet to Come" is a prescient one. — BK

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