Tess Parks and Anton Newcombe – I Declare Nothing (A Recordings)

2015 has been a very different year for Anton Newcombe, musically speaking, releasing two anomalies in his discography – a mostly instrumental soundtrack to a non-existent French film (Musique de Film Imagine), and this collaborative album with Canadian singer Tess Parks. I’ve listened to BJM long enough to know what to expect from Anton, who writes, plays almost all the instruments, and throws in vocals on two tracks. However, I Declare Nothing’s spotlight is really on Tess Parks, a wildcard to me, as I was unfamiliar with her 2013 album for Alan McGee post-Creation label 359 Music, Blood Hot. She’s got an interesting voice, which combines a gravelly Joan Jett-esque tone with Hope Sandoval’s dreamy melodies. It’s not the most flexible singing voice, but she does her one thing and does it well. As for I Declare Nothing, the songs are rather simple, which is to be expected when one guy is playing most of the instruments, and the whole collaboration feels a bit rushed, yet despite all the limitations, I’m impressed with just how enjoyable it is. “Cocaine Cat” is pure Anton-by-numbers in its melody and chord structure (both of which harken back to “Hide and Seek”) , but Parks’ voice shines on the track, making it a winner. “Gone” is cool too, with a slinky garage-folk beat and Anton’s voice making a rare appearance (he also sings a bit on “Melorist”). I’d like to see what kind of album these two could make with a full-on band and more time to develop their ideas, but for now this will do just fine.