Carissa's Wierd founding member Jenn Ghetto makes elegant, yearning synth pop as Jenn Champion. The project followed four solo albums of guitar-centric lo-fi as S in the 2000s and early 2010s. With a more atmospheric, synth-based sound in the tradition of '80s post-punk, she made her debut as Jenn Champion in 2016 with the single "No One." The project's first album, 2018's Single Rider, added light touches of smooth sophisti-pop and quirky indie electronica to the mix. Jenn Ghetto co-founded the deliberately misspelled Carissa's Wierd with Mat Brooke in 1995 after the two of them relocated to Seattle, Washington from Tucson, Arizona. While the group's lineup shifted over the course of three albums released between 1999 and 2002, notable bandmates included singer/songwriter Sera Cahoone and then-drummer Ben Bridwell, who went on to form Band of Horses with Brooke. In the meantime, Ghetto issued the solo album SADSTYLE under the moniker S in 2001. Carissa's Wierd officially disbanded in 2003, and the S LP Puking and Crying followed on Suicide Squeeze Records in 2004. Her third LP, i'm not as good at it as you, arrived in 2010 via Own Records, and she recorded a more fleshed-out final S album, Cool Choices, with a backing band and producer Chris Walla. It was released by Hardly Art in 2014. Ghetto dropped the S alias and shifted toward a more keyboard-oriented post-punk sound on "No One" in 2016, using the pseudonym Jenn Champion. Remaining with Hardly Art, the subsequent No One EP included remixes by indie electronic artists including Crater, USF, and Breakmaster Cylinder. Champion covered Yes' "Owner of a Lonely Heart" in April of 2018, then presented her first Champion album via Hardly Art that July. Titled Single Rider, it was produced by Brian Fennell (Barcelona, SYML).
© Marcy Donelson /TiVo
© Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 13, 2018 | Hardly Art
The full-length debut of a project by a well-established member of the Seattle indie music community, Single Rider introduces the discontented synth pop of Jenn Ghetto, formerly of Carissa's Wierd and S. Over the course of more than a decade with her solo project S, she delivered guitar-centric lo-fi that was eventually fleshed out with a full band on 2014's Cool Choices. After releasing the dark, post-punky "No One," her first song as Jenn Champion, in 2016, she settled into a more elegant, longing, synth-textured sound that, alongside programmed drums, still incorporates guitar. The airy opening track, "O.M.G. (I'm All Over It)," has a sophisticated, jazzy pop sheen that recalls bands like Everything But the Girl, and 2010s bands Tiny Fireflies and Young Galaxy. Songs like "Coming for You" and "Holding On" are similarly delicate and haunting but still anchored by sturdy beats and earworm choruses. That recipe holds true for most of the album, though it avoids feeling formulaic with the help of tracks including "Mainline," which plays with wobbly textures, funky rhythms, and judiciously placed silences. Elsewhere, "Time to Regulate" makes efficient use of contrasting timbres, including its keyboard tones, cowbell, and a rare appearance by Ghetto's high falsetto, whereas the rest of the set is heavily populated by her ruminating mid-range. Also danceable, it's a record that might have received heavy rotation on the MTV of the mid-'80s, although lyrics about timeless topics like unrequited love and just plain coping, and its intersection with the more wistful, pop-leaning indie electronica, make Single Rider very much of its time. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo