Jon McKiel Tonka War Cloud

Jon McKiel Tonka War Cloud
Delicate folk balladry and distortion-soaked chaos don't usually go hand-in-hand, but Jon McKiel makes the combination sound like it was made to be on Tonka War Cloud. Had these tracks been given stripped-down acoustic arrangements, they could have sounded like fairly standard singer-songwriter fare. Instead, "Strands" is laden with searing amp fuzz and squalling electronic noise, while "Fist Fight" culminates in an awesomely sloppy barbed wire guitar solo. With their raw production and boundary pushing deconstruction of folk rock, these tracks recall fellow Canadian troubadour Chad VanGaalen (particularly this year's Diaper Island). The second half of Tonka War Cloud is significantly tamer than the first, and the quiet laments that follow the mid-album "Interlude" are a bit of a letdown after such a strong opening. Still, even if tracks like "Violent Hawaii" and "Holy Ghost" pass by without making much of an impression, they aren't weak enough to undo the brilliance of the A-side. (Saved by Vinyl)