Friday, February 29, 2008

She Was A Pipette

I owe Julia Clark-Lowes an apology. I doubt she wants to go through the rest of her life known as "Julia who co-founded The Pipettes". Yet obviously that is how I think of her. She probably would prefer to concentrate on what she is doing now.

What she is doing now is well worth giving attention to. She is one of the two lead vocalists in The Indelicates (the female one, the other is a guy bamed Simon) . Even without the Pipettes connection, The Indelicates are a fine band in their own right.

Currently several singles have been released, and a full album is due out in April (2008). A new single is due about a month before the album. Additionally The Indelicates have released several songs on their website for free download, using some interesting strategies with these to promote the stuff that actually 'puts food on the table'.

The current single is "Sixteen". The song's theme is being young - even if you are not. Young at heart, if you will. Or as the song puts it "wanna be 16/Even though we're 23".

23 is hardly old. But it is around the age when it becomes painfully obvious that playtime is, if not over, at least closing out. Behaviors like "drink[ing] milkshakes until [you're] sick" are no longer accepted. Except for the young.

It is fitting that a song that addresses playfulness is itself playful. One phrase I find particularly wonderful - "This scene is the scene to be seen in" - is a good example of the general quality of songwriting in Indelicates material.

Another 'sign of quality' in the songwriting is the ability to write about a similar theme from varied 'angles'. Take "Fun Is For the Feeble Minded", which thematically addresses the same ideas as "Sixteen" - getting older. But while in "Sixteen" giddy fun can be had even though playtime is fading, in "Fun Is For the Feeble Minded", fun is ... well ... you see the title. "You're young/But you're aging/And the end is like a shadow there waiting". A wholly darker take on the subject than the former song. But decide for yourself - an acoustic version of "Fun Is For the Feeble Minded" is a bonus track on the CD single of "Sixteen".

Above I mentioned songs posted to The Indelicates official website. The songs (as of when I visited) were remixes and covers of "Sixteen". Hearing different takes on one song made me very eager to hear the release version. An interesting (and I think non-intuitive) way to give folks something of value for free without 'giving away the farm'.

Almost as an afterthought, I should mention what the group sounds like. No clever metaphors from me here - lets say the more rockin' edge of indie pop. I'll leave the cleverness to The Indelicates. It is something they have in spades.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

They Are Pipettes

The lack of 'the' in the title is important. You could us 'in' I guess. This post doesn't look at Pipettes material, but rather stuff featuring members of the band.

Much of this I have not heard but will mention for completion's sake. Co-founder Monster Bobby has a fairly well-received solo album out (Gaps) and there are strong rumours of a second on the way. The other musicians in the band have also contributed to other bands.

But most folks focus on the three vocalists. Becki ('The One With Glasses') contributes vocals to two tracks on Blind Cowboy's 2005 EP (the group also features one of The Cassette - the shadowy background musicians in the Pipettes) and also sings on "When U See The Future" by Y.Misdaq from the album Flowers & Trees.

And now stuff I actually have listened to. Rose ('The Brunette') takes vocals on The Young Plaything's "Life Is Great" from the single Yr So Fit (For Me). This single is available for download on emusic. The song comes from the poppy side of 'Pop 'n' Roll'. Lots of guitar. Rose's vocal isn't the best I've ever heard from her, but still very listenable. Recomended for Pipettes fans and guitar-heavy indie pop fans. The pop being guitar-heavy, not necessarily the fans.

Gwenno ('The One That Hits The High Ethereal Notes') has a MySpace page on which she has posted demos of solo material. The vocals are fairly close to 'final quality'. The instrumentation itself, however, can best be described as Casio-keyboard rough. The main attractions are the vocals and songwriting, so we won't judge the songs on the keyboards (they crack me up, though). The songs are more modern electropop than retro-flavored vocal group. My favorite of the batch is "U & I", which makes much better us of akward phrases than Pipettes' material sometimes does. (It fits 'running around like headless chickens' in!) The songs all have a great sense of melody - very hummable. Again for completion's sake Gwenno's two multilingual pre-Pipettes albums should be mentioned. 2002's Mor Hud and 2004's Vodya.

There. I mentioned them.

Monday, February 11, 2008

They Aren't The Pipettes

Full disclosure: the post title is ... uh ... borrowed. I saw it used someplace else and thought it was pretty funny.

Once I saw it I couldn't think of this post as anything else. There are a slew of bands drawing from the same well as The Pipettes. Here are three favorites.


A bit more guitar-centered than the other bands mentioned here, but firmly in a girl group tradition - witness the stumbling beat/handclaps on "Never Understand". I picked up the album Is That The Tralala? on emusic. Nothing I listen to religiously, but worth burning the 15 song downloads that it took. Tralala also put out that rare thing - a holiday album worth listening to. Standout track is "Christmas Never Comes". It should come as no surprise that clean female vocals are front and center on both releases.


Organ! Better yet, slightly cheesy 60s pop organ! Imagine if Ray Manzarek had never fallen in with a certain crotch-obsessed third rate poet and instead formed a pop group with a solid, if sometimes a bit "girly", female vocalist. This band virtually demands that you dance. The Frug will do fine. You know the "dancing" whenever Robbie had a party on My 3 Sons? That works too.

Bonus points for actually putting FULL SONGS worth listening to on the band website. Check out "Battleship". If you don't like it delete the download. But really if that happens get yourself checked out. There's something wrong with you.


More a "traditional" girl group than the others here, in that the vocals are handled by a group of gals. Not entirely "traditional" in choice of material though. Witness the somewhat strange cover of The Violent Femmes' "Add It Up". Or consider "1,2,3,4", which is either a tongue-in-cheek look at dance music ala "You'll Dance To Anything" or a failed experiment.

The best Schla stuff would feel mostly at home in 1963, though. I'm particularly fond of "Hot As Possible", the well-known story of "I broke up with you and now I regret it". Every vocalist in the band gets lead for a verse.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Day The Music Died

I'm breaking my chick habit to talk about this in a timely fashion. February 3 is "the day the music died". On that day in 1959 the small single-engine plane carrying Buddy Holly and others went down. There were no survivors.

I have a personal interest in the story. My family came "this close" to being a footnote in a really difficult trivia game. My grandfather farmed some of the land adjoining the crash site.

I won't bother going much into the music. If you don't know at least one of Buddy's tunes by heart get up from the computer and spin some! (Preferably vinyl ..) The music fan without at least a passing knowledge of the acts on the Winter Dance Party Tour is hardly living up to the name.

With one exception - a young Italian crooner named Frankie Sardo. Information on Sardo is scarce. Apparently he recorded through the mid-60s without much commercial success, in spite of positive reviews from the likes of Billboard. I have never heard Frankie Sardo - the only person associated with the Winter Dance Party who remains almost completely unknown to me.

For those who looked at the top of the blog and thought I posted my Holly memorial a day early, remember - time zones. I posted that within a few hours of the crash time - around 1 AM February 3.

Just 49 years later.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Not Fade Away

Charles Hardin Holley September 7 1936-February 3 1959