I'm really proud of the reviews Faith garnered and am working on a new collection of recordings that I hope to release in 2009. I plan to put a chronology of performances up. I think it is absolutely hilarious to see the wide range of folks I've shared evenings with. Trust me, it is worth the wait for me to get it right.
Manaia : Faith » Foxy Digitalis
Manaia is the solo project of Jen Strickland, who wastes no time in establishing herself with this CDR as one of the more evocative solo artists stepping across the modern garage-psych landscape. "Faith" is filled with the kinds of peculiarities that keep me coming back to a disc. The vocal delivery, the recording quality, and the guitar tones, all have a genuine "worked over" quality that gives this album an immediate depth. Strickland's voice cries out and whispers cryptic mantras that speak of spiritual yearning and discovery but all without sounding cliche or cheesy.
The highlight of the disc for me is the sixth track, "Unbelievable 2". Crunchy distortion ripples and blends with a minimal beat in the background as Strickland's voice repeats "... only an image to me...". The vocals and the music mesh and become solid for a moment. "What does this mean? Why are you in my dreams?"
The sound and intent behind "Faith" puts it somewhere close to other spiritual-psych navigators like Wooden Wand or Hush Arbors, but while Strickland's sound reflects the greats that have come before her, the voice of her music is entirely her own, and that originality speaks volumes about who she is as a songwriter and an artist. This seems like an early chapter in Strickland's story, but a promising one that hints at an amazing potential. 9/10 -- Charles Franklin Foxy Digitalis, February 2007
Manaia : Faith » Terrascope
Sometimes it is the small things that give the most pleasure, and so it is with this intimate and personal collection of songs, each one a finely crafted pleasure.
Solely created by Jen Strickland, these songs are brimming with honesty, the guitars offering a weird intensity that perfectly suits her voice, whilst covers of "He’s A Keeper Of The Fire" (Buffy Sainte-Marie) and "If You Needed Me" (Townes Van Zandt) reveal a wider palette and excellent taste.
Right from the opening track "A Reason" there is a sense of identity to the record, a consistency of sound that draws you in, with echoes of Vashti Bunyan and Joni Mitchell evident in the vocals although the guitar playing gives the songs a more distorted outlook on life.
On "Keep Cool But Care" a nagging insistent riff dissects the lyrics with outstanding precision, producing one of the albums highlights, whilst "Wait?" is a far more free-form experience the guitar chopping through a squall of cluttered noise to emerge battered and bruised on the other side.
There is an element of lo-fi Polly Harvey about "Unbelievable 2", the sweet despair of the vocals rubbed raw by the ragged chaos of the instruments, something also apparent on "Heart Of A Doll", although the harrowing lyrics add an intense layer of emotion to the song.
A wave of psychedelic unease is set loose as "Let it Slide Really" slithers into the room, a slow all-engulfing instrumental that is far from easy-listening, the sound of your nightmares knocking at the window, with rumbling guitars, electronic arguments and a host of creaking and groaning.
Finally "Yes I Was Drunk But I Meant It" is another version of Buffy Sainte-Marie that eschews the weird-psych of the previous version in favour of all out guitar riffery, burning bright and quickly, sounding like an early grunge band b-side.
At only 22 minutes this is more an EP than a full album, yet it has a quiet intensity that will impress, sounding like a complete work regardless of its length. Special mention also goes to the gorgeous foldout artwork, something that only adds to the completeness of the package. (Simon Lewis) Simon Lewis at Terrascope
Manaia : Faith » The Boston Noise
Wow, this woman has one sexy ass voice. The very sound of her is giving me a tingle jingle in my spriggle wiggle. This talented woman Manaia (yeah, I can’t pronounce it either) a.k.a. Jen Strickland, played and recorded everything. I think there are a couple of vocal cameos but it’s tough to tell. Where do these one-man-band people come from? I think this one comes from cerebral cyberspace. There are all kinds of mad stuff going on throughout this effort’s layers of guitars, synth sounds, reverse tape effects, and thick sultry vocals abound. You incense-burning, dope-puffin’ candle freaks are going to love this CD. She’s a maniac, maniac’ — I know, and I’m never gonna let her go! So go out and grab some Nag Champa, put on your patchouli, and light up. However, be prepared, it is really experimental. I’m normally not one to push this kind of music but there are some cool, soulful, cosmic sounds and performances on this CD. Aaahhhhhhh Foxy! (Lance Woodward) The Boston Noise, February 2007
twocubedsixsquared - S/T EP » Delusions of Adequacy
This mathematically named band is primarily a duo, although they get some help on slide guitar on one song. Focused around Jen Strickland’s angry growl of a voice and her wailing, scratchy guitar sound, these four songs are hard and slightly punky yet still more of a straightforward guitar-rock sound. Adequately backed up by Tim Morse on drums (and clarinet), the duo makes loud, fast rock.
The assault on “Adrenaline” isn’t just from Strickland’s guitar but also her voice, which brings to mind angry crooners like PJ Harvey at times, even reaching to a bit of a scream when the mood strikes her. A bit more rhythm focused, “Kings & Queens” may be my favorite song here. Instead of letting Strickland’s voice carry the whole song, the guitar and drums mix better, allowing her growling, desperate sounding voice to really flow with the song. And Morse’s drumming gets a chance to shine as well. By the end of this song, when Strickland erupts in wailing the lyrics, the song gets even more intriguing.
On “Unbelievable,” the band slows down a bit, creating almost a folk-like ballad. Clarinet and slide guitar give the song just a hint of a dreamy quality, and sudden Strickland is singing more than wailing, and ya know what? Her voice is actually quite nice. A quieter song like this is necessary to break up the band’s heavier style. Back up to speed, “Ocean” is another example of the band’s slightly gothic like rock approach. Guitars wail and swirl, and Strickland’s angry voice goes from sultry to crazy at the drop of a hat.
I’m not quite sure how well html will let me reproduce the band’s name, and perhaps they’d be better served spelling it out as two-cubed-six-squared. Something about the abrasive nature of Strickland’s vocals makes these songs a somewhat difficult listen, and while that’s not exactly a bad thing, there are moments when the vocals are used to a better result. Still, primarily fast songs with plenty of strong guitar and stronger vocals makes this debut EP pretty fun.
Delusions of Adequacy, January 1, 2001 by Jeff Marsh, Category: Albums (and EPs)
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- older: last.fm/music/Jen+Strickland/Anger
- older still: last.fm/music/Jen+Strickland/Exile
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