Portentous namesakes, erudition, and proficiency sometimes work against musicians. With Joan of Arc, indie fans have intrepid artists who venture into other media that coalesce around the nom de guerre of a woman burned at the stake in the 15th century.
When Joan of Arc comes to the Orpheum on Friday (supported by Isobella and Auto! Automatic!!), obscurants and scene mavens are sure to be out in force and in support of what is one of a precious few pedigreed bands that choose to appear in our southeastern burg.
Tim Kinsella’s previous group, Cap’n Jazz, was a short-lived white dwarf of an emo precursor that collapsed after only a few years.
Consider that all five Joan of Arc participants are savants worthy of attention, that being because independent music is rarely stocked with those intelligent enough to know that a deejay or a publicist are not prerequisites for good tunes. It is not as though this knowledge has been divined or come upon by guesswork; the aforementioned iconoclasts in Cap’n Jazz went on to form the Promise Ring, American Football, Ghosts and Vodka, Owls, and — of course — Joan of Arc.
It should be no surprise that the band under consideration is no staid outfit of stuffed shirts and wallflowers.
Kinsella — along with his brother Mike, Matt Clark, Jeremy Boyle, and Todd Mattei — set out to form, according to their website (hosted by their label, Jade Tree Records), “an all-over-the-place art-rock collective that asked to be burned at the stakes.”
Nearly a decade later, Joan of Arc and their notorious frontman never caught fire — nor were they completely chased down by angry Cap’n Jazz fans with torches — but it has certainly been an interesting ride. He’s released a live album that wasn’t live, an eleven-song record with only ten songs on it, and changed his name to ‘Kinsellas’ because he was feeling plural.
But no matter how strange he’s tried to seem, there’s just no escaping how simple his existence has been. All along, Kinsella has stood before indie grunts as a God-given songwriter with a mind as tortured as his heart.
Of all the pretentious paths in the world, there are worse ones than to be consumed by one’s own musical vision.
In that vein, naming one’s band Joan of Arc is perfectly reasonable; her flames become the flames that drive each instrument toward a common goal, secular fervor being the only differentiation.
Featured performances begin at 9 p.m at Orpheum. Ticket prices are $8 or $9 day of show.