In English class back in the day we learned that in writing, the best way to grab the attention of a reader is to use a loud noise, such as boom, smack, or zap. Sure, it"s a cheap introduction to Blonde Redhead"s newest record, Misery is a Butterfly, but face it, not that many people listen to the band so it could just be the best way to get a lot of people in to really cool band.
Everything for the reader right"
Blonde Redhead formed in the virtual racial melting pot of New York City"s mean streets. The band consists of two twin Italian immigrants, Simone and Amadeo Pace and Japanese punk Kazu Makino. Over the years leading up to their epic, 4AD LP Blonde had been unleashing their Noise rock explosion on the east coast underground via various indie labels. As hardcore as it is shoe gaze, Misery features some of the band"s most painful lyrics and some of their most melodic work. It begins with the epic balladry of "Elephant Woman". Though Kazu"s vocals are muffled, and the lyrics are hard to make out the song drips of emotion and longing. Weeping violins and bold cellos make up most of the song, along with some fine guitar and synthesizer work. Taking influences from New York"s Jewish and south Asian populations the song is a wonderful journey through the minds of 3 strange people and the places they knew growing up. It is just a taste of what is to come.
For a band to remain a creative force after over 10 years of underground music is exceptional. Especially when they move to large(r) labels like Blonde Redhead did with 4AD. Sellout obviously is the term most thrown about, but for me, this album isn"t about selling out. It"s exploring new highs and lows, would you really expect a band to play the same type of music for 10 years" As a band Blonde is as tight as ever (which could be, in the realms of Sonic Youth and such could be viewed as a fault) tracks like "Melody" bring more progressive instruments into the mix while remaining a rock song at heart. Shakers, organs, and acoustic detuned acoustic melodies make up large parts of the 11 tracks on MIABF along with the strings previously mentioned. As with a lot of records the single, this time a Yeah Yeah Yeahs-esque punk number, "Eqqus", is probably the worst, but heck, if it put BRH in car commercials I"m fine with it.
Bands who use two vocalists, but never at the same time are hard to come across, but Blonde Redhead is one of those bands. Amadeo and Kazu literally switch off singing duties on every track, besides on the genius trip hop inspired Pink Love that is. Their voices are odd; to say the least, Kazu"s has a sleepy dream like glaze on it. Blending in more as an instrument than actual vocals. She also tends to show the most emotion out of the two, but maybe it"s just the lyrics she sings. Amadeo"s sounds oddly similar to Kazu"s but very different at the same time. More squawky than dreamy, it can get fairly annoying after a while. Regardless of this it remains innocent and intriguing and can often produce some really original sounds, especially on track #6 Falling Man. Wall-like guitar based melodies are not uncommon in indie rock, but can be some of the most enjoyable parts of any track. When the chorus to Falling Man breaks, it feels like you have been hit with a wave. If waves were made out of trebley guitars, staccato piano and trippy effects, of course.
Balladry in noise rock is not an uncommon break from the previous punk like assaults. While MIABF lacks in punk like assaults it has its fair share of beautiful ballads. From the heartbreaking sounds of Melody to the Arcade Fire esque sad charm of Anticipation, Blonde Redhead manage to create memorable atmospheres with everything they play. Production on this CD is some of the best I"ve heard in a while. Everything is nicely effected, and at the right levels. The intricate melodies are weaved to together, like a cloth. In the indie rock world Blonde Redhead can be compared to Cinderella, once a ragged cool chick who used to make her stuff out of whatever she could find, now, for better or for worse, she is the hottest girl at the ball, crystal dress and all. At least she didn"t go all International Noise Conspiracy on us.
Overall the album has one thing that is essential to all great indie records, imagery, and lots of it. For me when I hear Misery is a Butterfly I picture a great Japanese beast, shot through the leg, but soldiering on through the bamboo forests leaving trails of colored blood. For other people it may be different, but I think all must agree, MIABF is original, powerful and trippy. Three things that should be put together more often. While Misery has it"s cons, it"s overall a great chill record and even at times a good one to rock out too, one that certainly deserves a