Aug 31, 2009 Web Exclusive
Named after a hiking path near Mt. Hood, Menomena's Brent Knopf veers slightly off the experimental rock path in search of simpler delights with his solo debut project, Ramona Falls. Featuring 35 of Knopf's best friends, including members of The Helio Sequence and Mirah, Intuit contains the same jazz, folk, and subtle electronia elements of his day job. However, here Knopf's free-form musicality is layered under deeply introspective lyrics focusing on, you know, the sort of quiet, thought-provoking topics that might make you want to escape for a long nature walk in the first place.
Thankfully, while occasionally sleepy and unfailingly thoughtful, Intuit never resorts to overt navel-gazing. "Always Right" contains the tongue-in-cheek line, "If you really wanted this, you'd admit I'm always right," underscored by a driving snare, tinkling piano, and playful chorus of "oohs" and "las." Even the album's lone instrumental track, the fleetingly short piano-solo, whimsically named "Boy Ant," contains an element of playful sweetness. However, that level of instrumental self-awareness fails by album's end when, after hosting a (gently) rocking Pacific Northwest musician's mixer, the final track "Diamond Shovel" features Knopf alone on guitar, creating a strangely deflating end to an album of delicately layered rock.
Clearly a path Knopf has walked before, Intuit at times feels like it could stray a bit further from Menomena's obvious trail markers. However, even with the occasional misstep, chances are, when navigating the world of music side projects, you'd be hard pressed to find a more charming guide. (www.myspace.com/ramonafalls)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 8/10