Several seconds into Joan of Arc's set, the speakers started crackling with cellular static. Someone's phone must've been waging an invisible battle with the sound system, and angry bursts of noise threatened to drown out the band's intro. Most musicians would've shot an angry glance toward the soundman, but Tim Kinsella didn't seem to mind. If anything, those jumbled signals were appropriate for his band's sound – an experimental mishmash of guitars, accordion, non-sequitur lyrics, and controlled chaos.
Onstage, Joan of Arc's seven members walk a fine line between composition and cacophony. But the band also has a fondness for melancholic, folksy ballads, where Kinsella sings about heartache in an affectingly ragged voice. Melodies and patterns gradually emerge, almost as if they had to be coaxed from the tangle of instruments, and that's how Joan of Arc reels you in. Just when you think things are too artsy for your palette, the group launches into a high-concept opus that envelopes the entire room in swirling drones. Then, before you know it, you're suddenly clapping your hands for ten minutes because Kinsella told you to do so, and you can't think of any reason not to obey. (This isn't on the video, unfortunately, so you'll have take our word that the odd event took place). It's tiring to applaud for that long, but – like the rest of Joan of Arc's set – the sheer bizarreness of the situation made everything worthwhile.
- Andrew Leahey
When emocore band Cap'n Jazz broke up in 1995, singer/guitarist Tim Kinsella, drummer Mike Kinsella, and bassist Sam Zurick decided to change musical directions. The trio teamed up with keyboardist/guitarist Jeremy Boyle and guitarist Eric Bocek in the summer of 1996, removing the boundaries and structures of punk and including more experimental elements like tape loops and electronics.
Calling themselves Joan of Arc, the group went on to record a string of albums whose progressive sound has appealed to emo and post-rock fans alike. From their first 7" single, Method & Sentiment, to 2006's Eventually, All at Once (which the band describes as a "casual folk-drone record"), Joan of Arc continues to produce challenging music with oblique lyrics, off-beat percussion, and the frequent use of samples.