Category Archives: Listening Room – Albums

Listening Room #17- New EP from Blame It On The Girl- Dismember


Blame It On The Girl was one of the first bands to contact me here at Jukebox Heroines when I began doing album reviews. We’ve since kept in touch and I am happy to announce that their new EP “Dismember” debuts today!

To recap, Blame It On The Girl is a Seattle, WA based Psychedelic/Progressive/New Wave quartet whose style is a mix of Blondie, The Cranberries, and The Muffs with some trippy fx tossed in the mix.

Dismember – EP
Blame It On The Girl

  1. Dismember
  2. The Chase
  3. Emptying
  4. Mayfly Zipper
  5. Sense Offense

http://www.myspace.com/blameitonthegirl

 

The EP begins on a slower, solemn note, with bouncing electic guitars and reverb laden vocal croons. But then, a swell of emotion oozes, and quickly subsides in a wave of drum fills. The title track is reminiscent of a midnight tide cycle, pushing and pulling, brining the listener in and out with leading bass lines, ending in light drum stick taps dancing at your ears.

 “The Chase” picks up the pace with savory growls against the flutter of precisely timed power chords, and a bit of a an eastern-flavored drive in the solo. This by far is my favorite track. It’s energetic, and continues that emotional pull. Likewise “Emptying” boasts impressive instrument riffs that gives the song’s title meaning in musical form. “Mayfly Zipper” is dirty, gritty, and feels like a page ripped from a jaded journal entry, with slightly singed edges.

The EP closes with the effect laden groove “Sense Offense.” It indeed floats into your sense of time with the main riffs of the song dancing about in the stereo-field, giving the listener a sense of disembodiment, which seems to be the album’s main theme. Themes of separation, especially in the instrumental work, topped off with vocals which feel spatially floating in the unknown space between make this idea wonderfully clear.

If an upcoming full album (please!) is anything like this, Blame It On The Girl is sure to put the pieces together for one incredible rock and roll carpet ride. You can get their EP digitally with a download code purchased at their shows, and hopefully, online outlets as well. Until then, stream the EP on their myspace, and check out their debut party tonight!

9:00 pm
The Funhouse
206 5th Ave N
Seattle, Wa 98101

Listening Room #16 – 45 Edition – Sugar & The Spices


Sugar & The Spices – Do The Dog / Bye Bye Baby (1963) on Stacy Records

Lately, I have really been into finding girl groups from the late 50s and 60s, both who played their own instruments and ones who were only singing groups. There were quite a few garage guitar-slinging ladies, complete with mod-dresses and beehives. It is so fun to see the black and white photos of them, their big Gretsch style guitars and mile-wide smiles. Women have always been playing the guitar, yes, even the electric guitar, and these pioneer all-female groups I think had an impact. Perhaps not a huge impact considering they were often seen as gimmicks, show-groups, or just plain marketing ploys (think Monkies). But, these women had skills and talent, and though they might not have been respected in their day, I feel other women like myself truly admire what they did, and the legacy that they left.

One of these all female groups was “Sugar & The Spices.” They only released four 45 rpm records that I know of. If you can find these in some dusty attic somewhere, they are truly gems. I listened today to their “Do The Dog / Bye Bye Baby” record, and it has all the makings of garage rock ‘n’ roll, mixed with the high treble vocals of the time and a groovy rock organ. Shagadelic baby!

What I think is so telling about the time period is stamped right on the vinyl record. Right under the title of the track, it reads: “Special Note: All girl group -No recording gimmicks.” Apparently, they had to stamp that on there to prove that these were women singing, and not just a pitch adjusted male group. Ha!

What is sad is that I cannot find any pictures of them anywhere, nor any more information. How many girls were in the group? Did they play their own instruments? Are they still alive today? What did they look like? I am assuming they played their own instruments, since they are featured on a girl group compilation that says so. The complication is called Girls with Guitars, and features many rockin guitar slingers.

So, if anyone out there has more information, please let me know! If you are a former Sugar & Spice member, please let me know as well!

I also created a facebook fan group for them, so if you like them please join!

However, youtube wins with having audio of both songs:

Listening Room #15 – Pat Benatar – Crimes of Passion


Pat Benatar – Crimes of Passion (1980) on Chrysalis

Pat Benatar was one of the first female rockers that I was ever exposed to. I came from a small, rural town in Pennsylvania, where “classic rock” filled every rock station. Apparently, it was the only thing considered music, and demographically, it wasn’t shocking that we didn’t have a more diverse radio enviroment. But, classic rock was what I had, so, I looked for inspiration when it was broadcast. Granted, this was the 90s, and I could have found out about artists other ways, like MTV, or the internets, or concerts. But this was a small town, I didn’t have cable or the internet, so the radio was all I had for a long time. At times, it felt like I was really in 1970, but I digress.

On rare occasions, a female voice would come through on the dial, and it was more than likely one of three voices: Ann Wilson (Heart), Joan Jett, or Pat Benatar.

In fact, Pat Benatar’s song “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” was one of the first songs my band had covered by a female artist. She inspired me to rock out. Who doesn’t love her vocal awesomeness? Who doesn’t love her killer 80s fashion? She’s not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame yet, but she damn well better be soon. Even if you don’t like that Hall of Fame idea, (me), you still know what ladies deserve it!

I have almost all of her albums on vinyl. Cheaply, I might add. Why has Pat Benatar been regulated to the $1 bin in used record shops? Why? She was a killer force for rock music in the 1980s and even now, there are not many who match her touring cred, vocal skills, and just pure charm. Is it because she was so popular, that somehow, there is just an overload of her work on vinyl? Is it that she’s just not cool, like the piles of Barbara Streisand or Deep Purple vinyl records I also see in the $1 bins? I don’t really know, but good for me and all those who want to listen to some women who just rock.

Indeed, Pat Benatar is one of those women in rock powerhouse names. Like Blondie or Stevie Nicks, Pat is accessable to many women and grrrls out there looking for other female musicians to role model. This was true for me. I didn’t have Riot Grrrl even when it was going on. No local music scene where rebel womyn railed against the all-boys club.  A lot of people put down artists that make it really big. They must have sold out somehow? Right? No. I don’t think so. In some ways, Pat’s ability to speak to such a wide audience is liberating. Eventually, you find others, lesser known and such, but there is nothing wrong starting with and loving the big ones.

So, Crimes of Passion. This album is a juggernaut for rock anthems. “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “Treat Me Right,” You Better Run,” “Hell is for Children,” and “Out a Touch” are all worthy of turning it up to eleven. They are solid when it comes to guitar riffs, climactic choruses, and singable hooks. Gosh, how can you not love Neil’s crisp and lightly distorted guitar solos? They are just so perfect! The lyrics, I might add, are empowering.  “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” is a rather tongue and cheek call, challenging your potential lover. “Treat Me Right” is a theme for demanding your lover stop playing with your heart. “You Better Run” is similar, demanding your significant lover stop telling lies, and confusing them. And last, “Hell is for Children” brings light the issues of child abuse.

Pat always just seemed such a confident performer. Even if you have never seen her live, you can hear it in her voice. Maybe it was her opera training. But she commands your attention at the flicker of an octave jump. She was one of the first female artists featured on MTV. She is one of the highest selling female rock artists of all time. She knows what she is doing, and I love it! A class act all the way!

Track Listing:

  • Side A
    • Treat Me Right
    • You Better Run
    • Never Wanna Leave You
    • Hit Me With Your Best Shot
    • Hell Is For Children
  • Side B
    • Little Paradise
    • I’m Gonna Follow You
    • Wuthering Heights
    • Prisoner Of Love
    • Out A Touch

Pat & Neil Online:

http://www.benatarfanclub.com/

Youtube:

Listening Room # 14 – 45 Edition – The Vivian Girls – Surf’s Up


Vivian Girls – Surf’s Up (2008) on Wild World Records

I am a fan of three-piece bands. Not just because I have been in them, but because you really have to know your stuff. There is more sonic space to play with, therefore you can in a way do so much with so little. Sometimes, when your band gets bigger, in the number of members, some of the subtle things, as well as, mistakes can get hidden. As for the Vivian Girls, nothing is more fun than just turning up the fuzz, add echo the vocals and let it rock.

The Vivian Girls are a three member surf, punk garage band from Brooklyn, NY. Their music is a combination of chord-rock, doo-wop drums, and retro-psychedelic sounding vocals. They are currently on indie labels right now, and their following is growing, at least, in all the magazines and websites that I read!

This 45 single includes 3 songs, in perfect garage band style. The guitars are treble heavy, with some tube distortion and fierce chord strumming. The bass rounds out the tone full of primal drive and perfectly inserted fills. The drums are a little punky, yet, remind me of the 50s and 60s styles of girl groups. The vocals of course are loaded with reverb and echo. They have an almost etherial sound, as if they are singing from the clouds, or at least a really strange sky stage.

It is refreshing to hear this band for a variety of reasons. You can tell they are not heavy on production and mixing. They basically sound just as awesome on their recordings as they do live. From what I have read, they like to record their songs in one take, all of them miked and playing at the same time. It’s real, just them doing their thing, and I love and respect that. They remind me a lot of The Pandoras’ early work in their style. Either way, the Vivian Girls Rock and are here to stay! I just love it. It’s back to basics, DIY style. Just good old rocking out with your friends in your basement. Can’t get any better than that!

I saw them a few months back as well when they came to Seattle. They rocked the house, and had so much fun. I had a blast as well just chillin’ and reliving memories of myself jamming with my girlfriends.  The band was hanging out at the bar, and I was in the booth beside them and still didn’t have the guts to go and ask for a picture or autograph. I know. I am always conflicted because I don’t want to be “one of those fans” but I’d love to meet them and hopefully say something cool and inventive, instead of “You guys are awesome!” Which is true, but ya know.

Here are a few pictures from the Seattle show on April 30, 2009:

Track Listing:

  • Side A
    • Surfin’ Away
    • Second Date
  • Side B
    • Girl Don’t Tell Me

And their websites:

And Youtube!

And here’s an official video from their self-titled debut album:

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