Twenty-three year old singer/multi-instrumentalist Bjorge has now spent the better part of her life creating and performing music in some capacity, whether as a member of marching bands and jazz ensembles in high school, collaborating with other local musicians, or through her own solo projects. After a brief stint of studies and creativity overseas, the South Carolina ( but soon-to-be D.C)-based, indie artist settled in back home, touring and working with other musicians in cities and towns throughout the Southeast while crafting her latest release.
Released on July 12th, Cuss Words !, Bjorge’s first full album, brings together a light, jazzy sound with some of the darker overtones of lo-fi, and the dynamic cello from Aniston Hoffman. The time signatures vary from the typical rock structures found in lots of indie music and there is more clarity in the instrumentation than a typical lo-fi album, allowing the jazz tones to be fully present.
The album opens with “Bad at Realizing”, which has a world music feel with an airy sound, similar a lot of George Harrison’s contributions to the Beatles. The lyrics carry a similar, philosophical weight as Bjorge speaks to how she often fails to realize that, “Time exists, in immeasurable increments.” Later, in a more straightforward style, reminiscent of Courtney Barnett, she tells her audience, “It’s all arbitrary. Surely, you realize.”
Bjorge brings out her two best vocal performances on “Tear Me Down” and “Urgent.” On the former, look out for those vibrating “I, I, I” in the last three stanzas. The omnipresence of the cello helps flesh the song out, as it haunts the background of sound Bjorge has created. On “Urgent,” we hear her quiet, yet soulful croons over a grooving drum beat. At places, it’s similar to some Feist tracks, though more pleasantly syncopated.
Bjorge’s drumming on “Naive Woman” emits a slow, jazzy feeling. The cello and other strings gives the the song an immediate feeling of weightlessness. It’s still got a nice sway and, if you let yourself, it’s easy to tap your feet too. The smooth guitar solo definitely fits that mold as well. Overall, this track really shows off her skills and her ear for sounds, and the music all seems to move into each part seamlessly and build, rather than clunking towards a specific structure.
The energy of the album increases a tad in the second half, and we find some of Bjorge’s more spirited offerings. “No Sepukku” is the most tenacious track, featuring the rowdiest guitar riff of the album. The strumming overlays the music and adds to the layers of sound, until it floats over the bass and into another beautiful solo. It’s arguably my favorite song.
“Died Among Strangers !” uses an old rock & roll bass line and melody to create a bright, airiness similar to the Beach Boys. The vocal parts remain salient and slightly ominous, even over the heavily pronounced bass lines. The guitar sound is more distorted and the solo towards the end leaves a joyous sense of finality as Bjorge sings out “And I’ll walk around, bare as I came. A mind content, with just good.”
I’m admittedly a bit picky when it comes to lo-fi music, at least the various sounds and effects of newer bands that fall within that musical term. Cuss Words ! strikes the right balance, even on the noisier “Same Plane.” Bjorge was able to showcase her various musical talents and influences, while still creating something entirely her own. Make sure to check out the album and follow Bjorge on Bandcamp or Spotify.