Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Album Review: Noun - Slug

**** out of *****

Marissa Paternoster has been collecting side recordings and snippets of home audio for a while and has periodically released these tunes under her pseudonym Noun. Back in 2010 she released her first collection of songs under this moniker, Holy Hell. It is an amazing collection of tunes which spill out from her Screaming Females day band into something unique. RtBE loved the record and rated it high in our year end review. Now comes Slug, a more intimate offering and one that seems to be a proper solo effort as opposed to an overflow of songs; however Paternoster has told RtBE directly that writing Noun songs is a reclusive activity and Slug sounds incredibly personal/reflective.   

The record plays as if it was a collection of found sound, lo-fi recordings for the most parts, but the intimacy and beauty which flows through can be stunning at times. The album runs the gamut from fairly straight ahead acoustic numbers like the opening timely "Corpus Christi" to the dystopian disco of the banging "Fame and Famine". The personal, intimate vibe is present with the direct honesty of "Drag" to the recorded snippets which capture the church's brazen hypocrisy with it's stance on homosexuality ("Glass Diamond") and a parents reassurance phone call to a gay child, that latter arriving before a great cover of AC/DC's "Shoot to Thrill" which could have been even more over the top.

Paternoster's guitar work is always mind altering, pairing with her wide ranging vocals, she is a dynamo on the layered "Easy" and the sultry/sexy riffing of the bad ass "Vicious Expert". The heavy and tape recorded/looped "Sleepwalker" thuds along while "Your Head" also plays with tape recorders; it starts distant and lo-fi before, looping back and coming in full functioning.

Paternoster also has a gift for ominous pop offerings like on the visceral "Feed Myself To You" or the so pretty it hurts "Just How Angry I Am".  Walls of grimy distortion ("Wet Rag") fit swimmingly next to odd acoustic folk ("Build Me A Lantern") and even if these songs were written worlds and years apart the cohesive whole of Slug works, because Paternoster is a skilled song writer; closer "Tied To An Anchor" could have worked perfectly on Rose Mountain as well.

Two covers of Patsy Cline standout as "I Fall To Pieces" is a gorgeously sung slice of disenchanted echoed folk with supportive tambourine while "She's Got You" is a sweet swirling blissful rendition. From the bass lead buzzing "Sleeping" to the piano/organ "Dead Swan" or minimal "Ain't My World" Paternoster paints a unique, slightly off-kilter, picture, a lot like one of her actual drawings. Marissa is an artist who has continued to evolve, grow and engage, Slug is just the most recent example of that and the next record will surely continue the trend.           
Support the artist, buy the record and peep some video below:

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