. issue XXIII : iii .
. artist : june of 44 .
. album : engine takes to the water .
. year : 1995 .
. label : quarterstick .
. grade : b .
Despite diminutive comparisons to their obvious inspiration Slint, math rockers June of 44 birthed an output less original — but more experimental, dynamic, and relatable. 1995’s Engine Takes To The Water certainly begins by invoking the same prepositional candor as Slint — it opens “in a kitchen, in a chair,” and proceeds to run through those atonal, oblique, halting tappings, the same muttered narrative cut to clamorous, raucous screeching, and employing levels recognizable as Albini-wanna-be. “Mindel” and “June Miller” are instrumental standouts, using crunchy, wailing feedback and taught lariat guitar lashes whose punch allows for syncopation with vocal cries. “Mindel” has an interesting premise, too: “He believes in the medical devices that keep her alive,” and so too does “Take It With A Grain of Salt,” which concludes, “Take it with another pill.” And completely unforeseen “Sink Is Busted” is a Jets to Brazil song before they existed.
Though June of 44 are more foolhardy than most manifestations of this genre — which is saying something — they also stretch farther, through naïveté, and sometimes hit the nail on the head. The four-piece memorably mopes through the 90’s everyday cliché of broken relationships, glibly grousing, “Like a wisdom tooth extraction, you know it had to happen.” Masterpiece “I Get My Kicks for You” uses the hushed horns of A Minor Forest and a febrile atmosphere — more D.C. than Louisville — of to create a sense of alienation in much more relatable ways, as the protagonist rises and sleeps alone in his world without “providence, or a rainy Arabic wine,” groggily muddling to the obstacle that prompts another half-hearted declaration: “It’s time to try out health.”