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Johnny Where's My Purse?

Transistor Six
Johnny Where's My Purse?
(Blackbean And Placenta)

For all the music that is tossed up on different clearinghouse websites without much of a second thought, we're living in an exciting time in terms of the creation of music. Just about every person who wants to can create music if they have a computer (or even less with some resourcefulness). Granted, that leads to a glut of the aforementioned in which there is no quality control, but there are some true diamonds in the rough as well. Frances Castle is one of them, and somewhat of a modern day renaissance woman too. Not only does she record her own music as Transistor Six, but she does wonderful little drawings as well, which comprise the art for the release, as well as graphics on her website.

Musically, Johnny Where's My Purse? is a completely bizarre concoction of folk, laptop electronics, and old-tyme radio. Imagine Sparklehorse with a slightly goofier lyrical and music focus (and a female singer for the majority) and you're getting a little bit closer. In addition to the tracks that she sang, Castle also collaborated with people that she knew, taking recordings of their vocals that were sent to her and inserting them into tracks.

After opening with a short intro track, the album starts in earnest with "Little Joe Your Head's Too Big," and one truly gets a sense of the odd nature of the group. Moving along with a creaky, giddy-up beat and some warm synths, the track wobbles along with a off-kilter feel for the entirety, while Castle adds vocals that are ever so close to being out-of-key. Lyrically, the track is as bizarre as something you'd get from the Elephant Six collective, focusing on a boy with a head so big he picks up radio signals.

While "The Neasdon Poisoner" continues with sort of a woozy feel (including some nice tremelo guitars and more oddly sung vocals), "Elgar V The Smoke Alarm" opens up with an absolutely beautiful juxtaposition of sampled strings and odd clicks, before dropping off to a super fun finale, with distant vocals by "Steward." Even with the slightly bizarre qualities of the first few tracks, though, nothing prepares one for "I Collect Plastics," in which gruff, surreal vocals by Sexton Ming are backed up by twisted carny music.

On "Gideons Bible" and "Fire In Suburbia," the old-tyme feel comes into play even more, with looped samples of twangy guitars and a warm hiss that reminds one of listening to an old radio. The former is a sample driven track that rolls along with a sly blues feel while the latter again features Castle on vocals and adds some nice sampled strings as well. Despite a couple tracks that don't work quite as well, the album is full of clever construction and music, and although it was recorded on a computer, it hums along with a nice lo-fi feel that works well given the style of music. Not as bubbly as Solex or as dark and contemplative as the aforementioned Sparklehorse, Transistor Six fills a nice middle ground somewhere in-between the two.

Rating: 7.25