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I really love the Aislers Set. For whatever reason (but not because I’m buying into any twee-pop clichés or anything), I strongly associate that band with knitting.
D.C.’s Jess Matthews also loves the Aislers Set, a fact she noted in an e-mail several months ago, and one that’s also evident in the music she makes as America Hearts. So when she took to our snow-covered parking deck in freezing conditions last month to play a couple of songs, the image to me was somewhat dissonant. In a very good way.
And similarly, America Hearts’ recent Fond Regards EP—-which you can purchase here and stream after the jump—-considers, and then gently tweaks, several twee tropes without over-relying on them. On “Breaking Glass,” jaggedly strummed guitars crash against Matthews’ gentle deadpan as she laments how we often resign ourselves to our stations (or perhaps artistic stereostypes). But in the chorus she pulls a reversal: “While we live like wasps in a glass/Remember there’s millions of cracks.”
In “Heart,” she deploys a cutesy, hyperbolic metaphor worthy of Calvin Johnson—-“One morning I awoke and found my heart had grown/From a seedling to a tree bearing sap”—-and extends it to perfectly ridiculous, and sweetly melancholic, lengths: “After seasons mostly bad my heart turned into a crab and made it’s humble home on the beach/I couldn’t understand how it scurried across the sand, the home it seeks seemed always out of its reach.”
But the best moment of Fond Regards plays it straight: “Train Tracks” is a poetic cowboy ditty addressing an itinerant lover: “But when you tip your hat, I know you’re coming back,” Matthews sings, “because you love me like the train loves the tracks.” The only thing more heartfelt comes two verses later, when she steps back and whistles a distant hosanna.
America Hearts performs tonight at 8:30 p.m. with A Study in Her and Olivia Mancini at DC9. $8.