Piers Faccini, Tearing Sky (Everloving Records, 2006)
The last line on Piers Faccini's online biography is a bad omen: "A storm is tearing across the skies, but one so tender, it'll do no harm." Oh. Thank God, because if his music posed any real threat, it'd be unlistenable indie garbage, I'm sure. First impressions count for a lot, and based on that I had every reason to hate Faccini. He's toured extensively with Ben Harper, shares labels with Jack Johnson, and has a bio that could be a tea advertisement. His storm metaphor does work, but only as an insult. At its worst, Tearing Sky is ridiculous corporate folk-pop with unnecessary novelty instrumention (koras, er-hus, karkabous—I haven't heard of them, either). Using weird instruments to make a more-or-less mainstream record comes off (in this case) as a half-hearted attempt at challenging your listener; it's a benign storm, a sheep in wolf's clothing, etc. Faccini works best when he takes off the wolf costume, cuts out the "shaman-like" singing (phrase suggested by his bio) and plays pop. "Sharpening Bone," the second track, is a reserved and dark tune that comes close to subdued funk. In fact, it's a good song—a really good song—until he starts doing this wordless drum and voice chant about a minute from the end, canceling out any good points the song may have had. Screwed again! I'm not a traditionalist by any definition, but this record would be so much better if he just played it conservative. Aside from the exceptionally inventive first track, "Each Wave That Breaks," the songs without the pretentious foreign instruments or chanting shamans are the best-written songs on the album. Maybe the time spent searching for a decent talking-drum player would have been better spent writing a simple but focused record. Maybe next time. (Kevin Ferguson)
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PIERS FACCINI PLAYS THE HAPPENING WITH MATT COSTA, CULVER CITY DUB COLLECTIVE AND ANDREW KIDMAN AT THE ORANGE COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART, 850 SAN CLEMENTE DR., NEWPORT BEACH, (949) 759-1122. SAT., 7 P.M. $25. ALL AGES. WWW.THEHAPPENINGLIVE.COM.