A very lo-fi guitarist is this Scout, and at times, she falls into the same repetitive stylings as her labelmate, Jorma Whittaker. Sounding slightly like What’s That Smell-era Bitch and Animal in the vocal department, the sheer repetition of the music on the disc keeps it from being a true work of art. While trying to go the retro route by playing outdated instruments (a Ludwig 1965 Silver Sparkle drum kit, 1920’s Snare), the sound that comes off them is exactly the same as a drum kit from now, or a snare made in 1992. The music on the disc goes many places, from the blasting drum lines of “Texas” to the Bob Seger-like progression of “Drummer Boy”. The increasing pitch of Scout’s voice during“Drummer Boy” makes for another instrument to add to the first half of the track, which is a Led Zeppelin-inspired romp that moves quickly to a DRI everyone-in-the-mosh-pit breakdown. The anemic “12 Miles” has the radio sensibilities of alt.rock with its very Touch-and-Go sounding progression. “12 Miles” tries its hardest to break out of the mold of a radio song, but is stuck between the commercial sound of Liz Phair and The Breeders and the f-you mentality of an act like Quasi or 1905.
“Your Beat Kicks Back Like Death” has a very Everclear-sounding enunciation of the main line of the song, “We’re All Gonna Die”. The simple frankness of the statement shows a very confident musical persona, something that allows the CD to go on at those times when the disc seems like nothing more than songs made by a scared little girl. “YBKBLD” is a perfect example of one of these moments, due to the lack of talented drumming by indie flavour of the week Songs:Ohia’s drummer, Pete Schreiner. “Its All for You” flops musically like a fish out of water, the cheerleader-styled spelling out of words a tired-out tactic. The jazz/rock fusion of the track tries to revive a style of music the movement of Touch and Go-style bands that made it so big on radio during the late 1990s, and only the most shallow listening will show anything of similarities.
Some moments are instant classics on this disc : including the aforementioned “Drummer Boy” and its ability to recall the spirit of Led Zeppelin-era arena rock. Unfortunately, too few of these moments and too many simply average songs make the disc nothing to write home to mother about. Scout Niblett has some definite potential, and I believe that this album is the cocoon-section of Scout’s life-cycle. Wait until the third album, the flowering, the breaking out of the webby cocoon, and I’m sure that the music world will be turned on its ear.
Top Tracks : Drummer Boy, Your Beat Kicks Back Like Death
Scout Niblett – I Am / 13 Songs / 2003 Secretly Canadian / http://www.secretlycanadian.com/secretlycanadian/scoutniblett/ / http://www.secretlycanadian.com / Reviewed 28 July 2003 / Released 2 September 2003