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Edith Frost – Telescopic

Drag City Records, 1998

Major score!  For less than a dollar I got a record by a respectable indie artist who happened to have autographed the album cover.  Sure, this could be equivalent to me signing one of my underwear and giving it to someone on the street.  I mean, who am I?  Who is she?  We’re just people … so an autographed record might be great if I really liked her music but it is only just an album with some writing on it if I don’t.  I had vaguely heard of Edith Frost because I liked her name and even more vaguely recall the type of music she played, so this was worth a buy to see if I had obtained something to brag about.

The music of Edith Frost really comes across as slacker pop.  It tends to sound a bit sluggish and awkward with very light drumming and guitar strums on most of the tracks.  Her voice is very light and sometimes seems to quiver, which I guess could constitute an aim for dreaminess.  The whole setup reminds me of my experience with Mazzy Star and its strong effect on invoking unconsciousness.  Nice enough, but perhaps too quiet for active listening.

“Walk on Fire” begins the album as a sort of sludgy pop song that lasts nearly five minutes.  Frost’s vocals take on a strong tone which, incidentally, is as strong as it gets for the rest of the record.  The fidgety guitar solo, featured halfway through the song, is barely heard above the rest of the band’s light tempo.  “Light” has a casual swing to it that gives it a ye olde time feel that reminds me a bit of the Squirrel Nut Zippers.  Perhaps that’s just because a violin is involved.  Frost sounds a little like early Liz Phair on “You Belong to No One”, though that is likely due to her sometimes monotone singing voice that has a few hard edges in it.  It turns out to be one of the better tracks on the album due to the music’s jovial tone.

Not all songs are blithely pretty to listen to.  On”Falling”, Frost includes an unnervingly repeated lyric of “we can go on forever”.  With Frost’s voice it actually sounds like a haunting threat that makes me check that the track time doesn’t exceed its three and a half minutes.  It turns out to be another one of those dreary tracks before Frost thankfully picks it up a bit with “Bluish Bells”.  Understand that a real rumbler from Frost is slightly speedier drums and fuzzier guitar.  It won’t start a party.  Songs like “Through the Trees” and “Are You Sure?” solidify Frost’s interest in sending the listener into dreamland with their plodding compositions.  (snore)

You can really get to know Edith Frost and her chatty personality on her website via a lot of Twitter updates.  You can also go to MySpace or Last.fm for some listening.

Ultimately this record comes across as a mix of casually interesting and dull.  Spinning it a couple of times made me appreciate the quiet tones more, but it could be easily relegated to forgotten background music.  I guess I had higher hopes for the autographed disc, but maybe it’s just not my type of music.  I nearly labeled the album a Bust but like I said, it took a few listens before I warmed up to it a bit.  I suggest anyone who likes quieter singer songwriters should give Frost a chance, but if you’re prone to liking more energizing music this may be a difficult listen.

  1. david delamancha
    March 18, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    i like energizing music but Frost also takes me on a nice journey that i enjoy going on occasionally. She’s a great indie artist in my humble opinion. Saw her live yrs ago at Schubas and was very impressed. She’s unassuming and thats whats fantastic about her and her music. But thats just another musicians opinion

    • -evan-
      March 18, 2011 at 11:24 pm

      Thanks for the insight! I should give more of her stuff a listen to see if it’s for me because you’re right, one needs music to de-energize to sometimes. Perhaps, if one is not expecting her style right away, one must expect to practice their patience to let her music settle in.

      • david delamancha
        March 19, 2011 at 1:50 am

        yea man. maybe you werent ready for it. it can happen to me too. drink some wine smoke a dunhill and play her cd.

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