Poor Aim: Love Songs and Remixes (KLP167)
"We're gonna jerry rig the cd player", said Jona, "and get three cd's playing at once." Khaela was in total agreement, "it might kill the stereo, but the sound of it will be worth it."
Back in 2004, Jona Bechtolt and Khaela Maricich conducted an experiment. Working together for the first time as The Blow, they set out to record an EP of radio style pop hits. The songs had to be slick enough to make it on the radio, and smart enough to make both of the collaborators proud. The delicious success of their experiment, Poor Aim Love Songs [KLP167], is being celebrated with a K Records re-release. In addition to the original record, the re- release features several re-mixes by close friends of The Blow, including Strategy, Lucky Dragons, Alan Fortarte, as well as reconsidered tracks by both Jona (YACHT) and Khaela themselves.
Pop is a wide spectrum, with hits and misses in styles all along the dial, but Jona and Khaela worked with the brave intention of fusing together the best of it. They were aiming for a kind of Frankenstein sound they had never heard before, something to pique the ears and soften the hearts of listeners from all levels of the coolness continuum. They knew that if they succeeded, the kids might be united, and just maybe, if only for the length of the EP, everyone could lay down their arguments over whether or not Billy Joel is cool.
Word on the airwaves is that The Blow succeeded. Their collaboration yielded resilient electro pop that pushes and pulls in all the right places, getting you to sing along, and then making you go back and investigate what those words you are singing even mean. To get the music to this tender consistency, the two sweated through a rigorous training, guzzling electrolytes and sprinting the stairs while their walkmen pumped out an unrelenting set list of coalescing influences: #1 urban party station thumpers, guilty pleasure power anthems, good time oldie hits, too-cool-for-radio-indie-insider-tracks, all layered on top of one another. Imagine Jona meticulously arranging every little bump and beat in the EP's seven songs, tuning ever more delicately his finely pitched production ear while hybridizing the stylings of last century and last week. See Khaela draining through the lyrical anthology of songwriting, examining how exactly words and melody can be used to trace the thrust of a feeling. Pressing her ear against the transistor radio, she cries out, "What is it about a Cars' song that can say so much by saying so little!?" WIth the sum of their efforts they carved for themselves a little musical niche: easy listening for difficult feelings.
Since the initial release of Poor Aim, the suspicion that this collection of songs might be palatable to a wider audience has been undeniably confirmed. Right from the start, the songs fell into a beloved repeat-play position in many a heart -- and cellphone ringtone. The only rub of the situation was that the album had been released as a limited edition EP. The pressing was limited to 1000 copies, marking the debut of The Pregnancy Series, a limited-edition concept EP series curated by Portland labels States Rights Records and Slender Means Society. The album was born cradled inside of a tender paradox: built to attract the affections of a mass audience, yet limited by design by its availability for sale to only a few. A few years passed, during which time Jona and Khaela continued their rich pop collaboration with the release of 2006's stunning full-length album Paper Television [KLP178]. Drawing praise from all corners (magazines, hip kids, moms), the full length confirmed that The Blow's pop cross pollination is still a vital force, alive and quenching the aural cravings of many. With the re-release of Poor Aim: Love Songs, The Blow's initial little gem finally gets its chance to ship out by the thousands and woo the masses. Thank goodness the stereo still works.