Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Pipettes. We Are The Pipettes (2007).

Gwenno, Riotbecki, and Rosay, are from Brighton, just like Electrelane, and they are signed to the UK label, Memphis Industries, as is The Go! Team, so they should feel right at home here at the Bunny Ears HQ. To make this bubbly cocktail you need a jigger of Ronettes , a dash of Shampoo , a pinch of B52s and just a sprinkle of Spice Girls.

When The Pipettes take the stage, they're brash and vivacious, flaunting a sense of humor,
abundant polka dots, and sassy synchronized dance moves. They spiritually channel 60's girl-groups, exude an edgy punkishness, and they're not afraid to yell at boys and tell them to go stuff it...

Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me:

After a number of listens, it's evident that The Pipettes are not some novelty act, despite their calculated emphasis on presentation. Their songs are simply good pop, even classic pop,
framed in girl-group stylings. The makeup is retro but the face has classic bone structure. Some of the tunes are quite simply superb indie pop dressed up in a nostalgic frame of reference. A great song like Tell Me What You Want could have been done by Saint Etienne, or Birdie. When they're not shouting like the B52's they can sing in bright harmony, as in A Winter's Sky, which would be a great tune done in any style.

There seem
s to be a trend in the UK for recycling vintage sounds (Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse), and there is an audience for that when it's done well. As with the others mentioned, there is the wink of nostalgia with an underlying heart and an earnest love for the sublime, yet succinct, pop moment musicale. For that authentic production sound, the guitars are set on the bridge pickup, there's a string section (a real one!), horns, as well as the occasional glockenspiel and Farfisa organ, and plenty of reverb on the drums. If these tunes were actually released in the 60's they couldn't help but be AM radio hits. The Pipettes were planning to come to a town near you, but their work visas got messed up and sadly, they had to cancel the first 18 of 24 dates on their US tour - que c'est tragique!! Buy the CD on Amazon for only $9.98 - at 16 tracks that's only 62 cents per track, a much better deal than downloading them on iTunes. Plus you'll be able to hold The Pipettes close to your heart, or put them under your pillow, as needed.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Au Revoir Simone. The Bird of Music (2007).

Remember Julee Cruise? David Lynch elevated Cruise to star status after using her as a singer on the soundtrack of Blue Velvet, then as a recurring lounge singer on TV series, Twin Peaks. He literally elevated her before that in his performance piece, Industrial Symphony No. 1, where she sang suspended from a harness, dozens of feet in the air. Music is very important to Lynch. He gave a big break to composer Angelo Badalamenti when he used him for Twin Peaks and several films, even casting him as a piano player in Blue Velvet, and collaborating with him as a co-songwriter. Few people other than Lynch fanatics are probably aware that he released a recording of his own music co-written with John Neff, called BlueBob, on which he plays guitar and effects.

David Lynch is now an enthusiastic fan of a trio of young women from Brooklyn, called Au Revoir Simone.

They even shared a stage with Lynch at the Barnes and Noble at Union Square last January for the "Upstairs At The Square" writers and artists series. They've played at fashion shows, had their songs placed on TV, and they're currently on tour with Air.

The girls all sing and play keyboards, but their new CD is filled out with 'cello, violin, trumpet
and trombone. Wistful but not wimpy, their music is sweet and enchanting. Fallen Snow has a staccato organ part reminiscent of The Beach Boys, and the synths in I Couldn't Sleep interlock like medieval counterpoint. Even in tunes with titles as sombre as Sad Song, Dark Halls, and Night Majestic, the beats are bouncy and percolating.

They have a deft hand with harmony. The keyboard parts are composed with subtlety and they are able to shift time signatures with undistracting ease. The lyrics are personal, reflective and intimate. They sing in a straight, unemotive style.

Let's join the girls as they prepare for a fabulous dance party.
Sad Song:

Even though their their music is a bit synthetic and chilly, their visual presentations emphasize a fragile, warm and organic quality.

Fallen Snow is actually about the cold of winter, but here the girls are meeting a friend to fish for some peculiar objects on a warm summer's day.
Fallen Snow:

I can see how David Lynch would appreciate Au Revoir Simone. They present an innocence that is not simplistically naive but seems to be a premeditated construct, purposefully chosen to explore an angle of popular music that is personal and has nothing whatsoever to do with what is trendy or commercial. It's remarkable that the three individuals have worked together as a unit in creating this integrated, introspective world of delicate charm.