cd reviews - January 28, 2013
This project has been around in
one form or another since the late 90's, but in their current incarnation
since 2008 with Mollie Israel, Stephen Masucci and Michael Williams. This
album marks their third full-length release since 2008 with Midnight Matinee,
2010's Dark Matter and this release in 2011. The band's overall style
of goth-a-billy, mixing electric and acoustic guitar with the occasional
country twaing has been capturing the attention of various fans over the
years. On this album we're treated with eleven of these somewhat eclectic
pieces, while the disc comes packaged in a nice tri-fold, cardboard digi-pack
with some simple artwork and band information.
The album kicks off with some great tracks and keeps
it up pretty much for the duration of the album. The intensity and styles
vary throughout the body of work from the more intense rock-driven pieces
with a bit of shimmering, distorted guitar soaring over the moving percussion
and subtle synths, while at other times a more laid-back ethereal style
comes out with the slower down-tempo beats. While the band and this album
carries an eclectic style that spans such a broad range, at any given
time when one of these tracks appears on one of our radio shows, the style
is easily recognized and on this album it all mixes well for a solid,
connected mood and almost thematic approach. These themes stand out through
the song titles from "Dead or Alive", "Play with Fire"
and the chorus of "children of the night love to play with fire",
the appearance of "Sweet Ophelia" and "Lost at Sea"
are themes that often appear in folk and goth-related music, so this album
fits right in with the related genres and bands.
As I've listened to this album over and over, several
tracks immediately stood out while others have grown on me a bit. Some
favorites really come at the beginning of the album, but others are scattered
throughout. Listeners of our radio shows will no doubt pick up on some
of these as they are included on both of our radio shows. "Dead or
Alive" kicks off the album and is a stellar masterpiece showcasing
the country-ballad style of acoustic guitar meets somber female vocals
and the subtle synths and electric guitar that really give the music some
great body. "The Road Is Long" is an excellent down-tempo piece
showcasing much of the same styles in a laid-back atmosphere, something
along the lines of later Cranes meets Julee Cruise with a bit of an attitude.
"Play With Fire" is pure goth-a-billy, with a fast-paced beat
and that unmistakable mix of guitars all holding the backdrop for Mollie's
vocals and the fitting lyrics. "Little Girl" and "Not The
Only One" are both nice relaxed, down-tempo pieces. A little bit
later "Lost At Sea" stands out a bit more with a bit of a classic
rock style while still anchored in the goth and folk sounds of the album.
"3 AM" stands out with it's inclusion of saxophone that 80's
music fans will definitely love. As the album wraps up I have mixed feelings
about "I'm On To You". This is almost pure country and for the
average fan listening to this album (and probably the artists themselves),
it will be fun or cute, but for me, as I grew up listening to a lot of
country music (not by choice) and with the resentment of that trial, this
song actually brings back to many bad memories as pure country music from
a few decades past.
There you have it, definitely interesting and diverse.
Not something you hear every day in our favorite genres though there definitely
are plenty of the goth-a-billy bands out there, something like this as
a diversion once in a while is great, but I think this band pulls it off
well and this album is a great addition to our collection.
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