Monday, October 8, 2007

CD REVIEWS: Deadlier Than the Male

[ffoto: Tony WofMann, Donna SheWolf at Hanks in Brooklyn]
Anyone expecting a replay of the SHE WOLVES’ first release are in for a surprise. On 13 Deadly Sins (shewolves.com), they have added bad-ass bassist Gyda Gash, and they have mutated into a grinding metal machine. Listening to this is like trying to hold onto a handful of ball bearings: it slides around, screeching metal-against-metal to an ear-piercing degree. This is powerful shit, with titles like “Vicious Tit”, “Ghost Boyfriend”, “Kill Something”, and the song-title-of-the-year “I Kill With My C*nt” (asterisk theirs). One of the heaviest metal power trios I’ve heard, it is sort of a cross between walking in a sandbag and getting hit by one. Donna She Wolf’s vocals grind and growl more than ever, and is pure scary. Gyda’s near-lead bass-work pushes them further, and Tony WolfMann’s drumming sums up all those years of his work with the likes of Dee Dee Ramone and G.G. Allin. This was recorded live on stage (sans audience) at some ungodly early hour at CBGB. Do not listen unless you are strapped in, because you’re in for a ride. – Robert Barry Francos

I love the SHE WOLVES, both their music and as people. Funny thing is, I’ve never been a metalhead, but they touch a place that wants to rock, much as Slade did, I guess. Sadly, I’m missing them play at one of their “homes,” Otto’s Shrunken Head, even as I write this. Get me my hairshirt! Anyway, they have this release of early material called “Mach One: The Early Years”. Hmm, actually, I would think this should be called “Mach One-point-Five”. Before evolving into the chrome melting metal goddesses (and god…haven’t forgotten you, Tony), the band was a heavy punk outfit with Laura Sativa on bass. After her departure, the ever-eloquent Gyda Gash took over and enabled the metal-tude. Most of the material here is post-Laura, hence the “1.5”, as I would consider Laura the “1.0”. Either way, the music sometimes smolders, other times grinds, but it always grabs the listener by the scruff of the neck to say “pay attention!” There are self-covers of some fun songs like the killer “Art of War” and Ramonesesque “Hundred Bucks” and other originals (happily, including drummer Tony WolfMann’s very fun/strong “Chainsaw”. Thing about the She Wolves is that they are musician’s musicians. They usually have some kickass guests at their shows, ranging from Thin Lizzy to Love Pirates, and onward. Here, they do numbers with powerhouses such as Sylvain Sylvain (“Sheena is a Punk Rocker”), Jayne County (Dead Kennedy’s “California Uber Alles"), and the Fuzztone’s luscious Deb O’Nair (yes, Rudi, you’re luscious, too). From one end to the other, this will not only tear out your heart with it’s buzzsaw sound, but it will heal you back with it’s solid rhythm. (poptownrecords.com). – Robert Barry Francos

I came across vocalist Sarah Paolini on My Space, which led to me getting the opportunity to hear this CD, "Despite the Battle" (1661 La Presa Ave, Spring Valley, CA 91977), by her band, COLPORTER. I was already impressed by their clever name. Rather than Tin Pan Alley, Sarah fronts and plays bass for this metal trio who are more Iron Skillet Over the Head Highway. Unlike the standard guitar-fueled studio-clear sound of hair metal bands, Colporter are not afraid to get down and dirty as they sludge and grind out their sound, like humans rubbing rather than hitting. The only ting really “crisp” is Sarah’s vocals, as she strides the metal monster. The song topics range from warriors (“Despite the Battle”) to emotional angst (“My Darkest Hour”). Definitely a sound that works for them. – Robert Barry Francos

Last time I reviewed THE MARIANNE PILLSBURYS, I was mistaken to put them under singer-songwriter genre. I had the pleasure to see them play in Brooklyn on their home turf, and they were so much fun pop rock’n’roll. They continue to show a “girls” perspective on The Hot EP (Average White Girl, c/o mariannepillsbury.com), but the music is rougher, and yet retains its charming pop rock oeuvre with incredibly catchy songs. This is highly recommended. All three cuts are killer, dealing with disingenuous friends (“Girls Night Out”), being pressured by /trying to change the person she loves (“Fixer-Upper Lover”), and a girl-power cover of Cyndi Lauper/Prince’s “When U Were Mine.” – Robert Barry Francos
My photos of the show with the Marianne Pillsburys: http://entertainment.webshots.com/album/544794675WCPomm


On “Batten the Hatches” (jennyowenyoungs.com), JENNY OWEN YOUNGS has a style that’s somewhere between Rickki Lee Jones and Martha Wainwright. It’s a little bit jazzy, a little bit rock, and full-on complex singer-songwriter. Her voice alternates between a whisper and a soaring creak with a flinty element has is both idiosyncratic and lovely to hear. Whether she’s second-guessing past dalliances (“Fuck Was I”) or wondering what to do next (“There’s no one I can think of I can stand less than you/Don’t you want to touch my hand before you go/I think I’m confused” from “Coyote”), there’s a spirit of honesty always present. Sometimes the lyrics are somewhat cryptic, but still the overall sound is quite accessible. “Keys Out Lights On” reminds me a bit of kd lang’s “Constant Cravings” (melody line, not vocals). This finishes up with a “child-friendly” version of “Fuck Was I”, which I find more humorous, like a kid isn’t gonna know what those blank spots are. Certainly an admirable effort. – Robert Barry Francos


Knowing it’s a clichĂ©, judging a book – or in this case an artist – by her “cover” is a pleasant surprise. LAURA CHEADLE is a young white woman with a big guitar, and on her self-released “Falling In” (lauracheadle.com) she shows that she has just a big a voice, with a solid R&B, bluesy, jazzy, soulful sound. She applies her voice well, in a way that would makes the likes of Bill Withers or the Reverend Al Green smile. Very ‘70s blue eyed soul with sexy inflections, soaring from a blast on one cut to a breathy whisper in another. Now that the cover has been removed, I now think, of course, Laura is playing what is natural to her, and a pleasure to listen. – Robert Barry Francos

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