John Parish Once Upon a Little Time

[Thrill Jockey; 2005]

Rating: 2/5

Styles: singer-songwriter, indie rock
Others: Royal City, Ticonderoga, Hayden

John Parish is okay with dropping names in his resume. PJ Harvey, Eels, Sparklehorse, Giant Sand: pretty impressive. Parish is both a musician and studio geek, and Once Upon a Little Time marks the first time in 15 years that he's emerged into the spotlight to open his mouth for a few tunes. It's not an unpleasant voice he's got, though nothing too arresting. Parish and Italian buddy Marco Tagliola keep Parish's baritone up front on Once Upon a Little Time, and it generally works.

After "Salò," a quiet little piano piece, Once Upon a Little Time opens with a string of mid-tempo General Indie Rock numbers before dropping the grating two-stepper "Even Redder than That" and sonorous instrumental "Water Road" to round out the album's first half. Elsewhere, you've got the messy "Even Redder than That Too," another instrumental ("Stranded"), and a six-minute dirge to end the album, "The Last Thing I Heard Her Say." It's all perfectly competent, and generally pretty uninteresting.

Frankly, the last few records I've reviewed for TMT have all been about the same. Mt. Egypt, Ticonderoga, Hockey Night, the Oranges Band — it's all fine stuff, it fits easily into the indie genre, but when listening to any of these albums, including Once Upon a Little Time, I can't help but get antsy to put something with a little more — you know — on. There are new records out by Deerhoof, Lightning Bolt, Broken Social Scene — even Dirty Three are still captivating; why bother camping in the tried and true? Parish is good at what he does, but I suspect he'll have a hard time finding an audience with patience to watch him do it.

1. Saló
2. Boxers
3. Choice
4. Sea Defences
5. Even Redder Than That
6. Water Road
7. Somebody Else
8. Kansas City Electrician
9. Stranded
10. Glade Park
11. Even Redder Than That Too
12. The Last Thing I Heard Her Say

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