Elfin Saddle Gigantic Mother/Wounded Child

Jordan McKenzie’s warbling caterwaul is a grating way to introduce this new Montreal duo, and his predilection towards wavering tuneless repetition is thankfully only one side of Elfin Saddle. Tracks led by McKenzie, like "The Sun” and "She Mountain,” sound uncomfortable due to his lack of confidence and ability with his vocal delivery. Contributions by the Japanese-born Emi Honda fare much better; she’s the obvious artist of the pair. Not only is she markedly more capable as a vocalist and instrumentalist but also her compositions are much more harmonically adventurous and lushly arranged. There are moments when McKenzie’s country blues stomp and Honda’s familiarity with traditional Japanese scales blend into something exciting, but even the six-minute plus "The Maker in the Garden” fails to convert its steam into energy. All the tinkering, clattering and twanging of the flute, accordion and saw is great ear candy but playful instrumentation doesn’t make up for lacklustre songwriting. (Kill Devil Hills)