Let’s cut straight to the chase with this one, as it’s a record that heads straight for the seat of the pants from the outset: Street Vernacular is a summer-come-early joy. All retro hip-hop beats, cooed girl vocals and upright and super-tight bass, it’s a record to strip off and wrench a hydrant open to (assuming that you, like Cannonball Jane – a.k.a. Sharon Hagopian, elementary school music teacher by day – call Brooklyn your local turf, the home of your particular street vernacular); it’s a record to sip icy beer to and party ‘til the summer sun drops and circles right back around again. So, what’s the sole problem? It’s January, silly.
What the label are doing releasing this now is a mystery: it’ll be swallowed whole by the sales shoppers, shifting not nearly enough copies to cover the cost of actually putting it into stores (only for it to sit in a rack until summer comes around and the label sensibly pushes it all over again). If they don’t give it another oomph come the rainclouds’ desertion, it’ll be a crime of such significance that I may shed a tear; Street Vernacular really is that joyous. It makes your body move without your brain’s prior consent, its sampled scratches itching their way down your legs and twitching your toes about your winter boots. Your behind will wiggle; your hands may mould themselves into amusing shapes. People on the bus will stare at you, but just beam right back.
‘Breaker Breaker’ and ‘Let’s Go’ are like The Breeders playing at being The Beastie Boys circa ‘No Sleep ’Til Brooklyn’ and Run DMC vs Aerosmith respectively, rocking popping beats and synthed-up guitar licks; ‘Add A Wrap’ begins with air raid sirens before slipping into something close to an electro ballad, the kind of thing that Dido should lend her talents to if only she’d pull away from her current MOR conveniences; and ‘Hey! Hey! Alright!’ is positively delirious, a dizzying Bis-meets-Le Tigre mash up. ‘Brave New World’ even samples Pac-Man – respect. Dare we suggest that Street Vernacular, recorded entirely solo at Hagopian’s home, could be this year’s Check In, a pop album that even the most tedious of indie snobs can enjoy without fear of shedding scene points? Yup, we dare.
(Hey, indie snobs: Cannonball Jane has shared bills with Le Tigre and E.S.G., so chin up.)
Fortuna Pop!, promise me something: slip this into a few select stores now and then open the PR floodgates just as soon as the sun has got its hat on. It’ll brighten dull winter days for sure, but Street Vernacular’s home is in the bright midday sunshine, clasping a cool drink and bopping with the biggest of smiles on its face.
From Drowned in Sound published Jan. 5, 2006