Winter Swim


On Manzanita (which translates roughly as “little Doors fan”), Mia Doi Todd lets loose with a psychedelic barn folk burner as powerful as a face slap by a false albacore in the North Atlantic at high tide. Backed by Dead Meadow’s lysergic scientists (the entire album’s personnel is a Mojo magazine CD comp waiting to happen: members of Beachwood Sparks, the Tyde, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Future Pigeon, too), “The Way” wriggles and swims up from the depths toward a light that just might be the future of electric folk-rock in the 21st century. Mia’s deep, plummy voice and finishing-school enunciation give her an authoritative, commanding tone reminiscent of Wicker Man-era high priestesses Sandy Denny and June Tabor. Who she really reminds me of is former 4AD recording star Heidi Berry, who mined these same oceans way back in the go-go ’90s. (A good thing if you are a Heidi Berry fan. And I am!)

One problem though: Mia peaks too soon. That opener is by far the strongest song. The rest is by turns meditative, breezy, intimate, and snoozy. The kind of album to help you wait out the winter with a pot of Sleepytime tea cut with some scotch. There’s even a perky little stab at reggae . . . Oh, who am I kidding? I want more acid folk like “The Way” and I want it forthwith! We need more imperious, majikal chemical tapestry weaving from singers as oceanic as Mia! (Those other indie sprites, warbly nymphs, and woodland creatures grooving with a pict that are all the rage these days are starting to give me a headache.)