Looking for Landmarks (Sarathon)
by Michael McCarthy
Two Loons For Tea are Sarah Scott and Jonathan Kochmer and this is their second album, the first on their own Sarathan Records label. The list of folks who they perform with on this album is nothing if not extensive. One wonders if they aren’t trying to inspire a game called “the six degrees of Two Loons For Tea” because you can probably connect them to damn near anyone using this list of collaborators. Drummer/producer Matt Chamberlain has worked with Elton John, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, and Macy Gray. Mixer Kevin Killen has worked with Elvis Costello, U2, and Peter Gabriel. Percussionist Mike Dillon has worked with Pigface. Bassist Paul Bushnell has worked with Jewel, Shakira, and Ednaswap. The list goes on, but you either get the idea already or ya won’t. (So what do Scott and Kochmer do themselves? She sings and writes the lyrics. He writes the music, occasionally collaborates on the lyrics, and plays electric guitar, synth guitar, acoustic guitar, baritone guitar, and bass.)
Looking For Landmarks is a diverse album. Their press release says it “dissolves the borders of rock, jazz, funk, and torch song balladry.” Most indie-minded artists make such claims, even when they send you a CD of songs that all sound like Liz Phair covers, but in this case, the self-description is accurate. And none of these songs sound like they’re trying too hard to fit a specific genre, which is nice because there’s nothing worse than an alt-rock artist trying to do the “jazz song” or “funk song.” (A lot of people releasing CDs on their own record labels seem to think that covering as many genres as possible is a surefire way to get good reviews and go places; one should think that if you’re trying out six genres and can’t get any of ’em right, you’re downright hopeless.)
Scott’s dreamy, piano-bar-style vocals remind me of Norah Jones. In fact, if you like Jones but wish she were a bit more eclectic, then this is kind of like Jones with harder beats and edgier guitars. Likewise, the storytelling sensibilities of the lyrics and acoustic guitars make some of these songs – like “Sad Diamonds” – folk gems waiting to be dug up (or performed in your local subway station). Two Loons For Tea could open for Tricky or Willie Nelson and chances are they’d win over either audience.
(1717 Taylor Avenue North Seattle, WA 98109)