Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v04n21)
Rick On The Records - by Rick Zeigler
posted: Oct. 19, 2007
PIPETTES-WE ARE THE PIPETTES
The Pipettes, with tongue in cheek, modestly propose to take music back to the days "before the Beatles ruined everything." They are referring to the heyday of 60s girl groups, when outfits such as the Shangri-La's, Ronettes, Chiffons, Crystals, etc., ruled the charts and had few concerns about artistic vision or about baring one's soul in lyrics. Rather, the focus was simply about having fun and expressing the joys and travails of love-hey, wasn't that the focus on the Beatles first few albums! At any rate, the Pipettes pull off this feat with class, verve and nerve on their first album. Hailing from England, Gwenno, Rosay and RiotBecki, along with their anonymous all-male backing band, the Cassettes, met at a Brighton beach party (perfect, if true!) and have now been snatched up by a major label seeing cute girls singing catchy songs. And the tunes are very catchy, indeed. All the early sixties sonic signatures are in place, including handclaps, shout-along choruses, orchestral sweeps, simple, pounding drum beats and a complete lack of guitar heroics. But the Pipettes, despite their press, are not simply turning back the clock. Their names are the first giveaway in this regard. And their sound, although containing the above elements, is modern, with nice separation between instruments and lots of keyboard passages you wouldn't have heard in the sixties. More importantly, and more entertainingly, is how the Pipettes bring girl-group lyrics into the modern age. They do not sing so much about wanting that "one true love," let alone about getting married. Rather, their focus is on the joys of temporary relationships and treating boys badly. In "One Night Stand," the girls tell a boy to stop hanging around after that one night, and explicitly state, "I don't want to fall in love/I don't want to see stars in the sky/I just want to catch your eye." They also taunt him with the line, "Baby, did it hurt when you fell from heaven." In "Why Did You Stay," after a "Runaway" style guitar lick, the Pipettes harmonize about their good-natured boy, but lament "He was so sweet, but I've had just about enough of sweets," before telling him to kiss off. "Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me" and "Because It's Not Love (But It's Still A Feeling)" cover similar ground wittily and with strong songs to back them up. And make no mistake it is the excellence of the tunes that allows this album to successfully pull off their goal of a retro-modern fusion.
IRON AND WINE-THE SHEPHERD'S DOG
Sam Beam, who is Iron and Wine (and a former college professor), has one of those hushed, haunted voices that reminds one of artists like Elliott Smith and Nick Drake, not so much in pure tone but in the overall feel and vibe given off. Full of somber melancholy, this is the sound of being forced to live with or surrender to unseen forces that are ever-present. Beam has put out two previous albums and a couple of EPs, all excellent, but this effort is his most fully realized work. While his first album, "the Creek Drank The Cradle," was performed, produced, and recorded entirely by him (indeed, Sub Pop simply put out the demo tape he sent them), each subsequent effort has seen him flesh out his sound-world with additional musicians and instrumentation. Here you will find mandolin, sitars, African highlife guitars and exotic percussion, all helping to lend the necessary spooky qualities to his tales steeped in Southern gothic and religious imagery. And, in fact, it is Beam's lyrics which make Iron and Wine albums so compelling. Almost always allusive rather than descriptive in his imagery, in "Wolves," Beam sings of "Wolves in the middle of town and a chapel bell ringing through the windblown trees." In "Boy With A Coin," he intones, "A boy with a coin he found in the weeds/with bullets and pages of trade magazines/close to a car that flipped on the turn/when god left the ground to circle the world." The titles of other songs, such as "Pagan Angel And A Borrowed Car," "Resurrection Fern," "The Devil Never Sleeps," and "Lovesong OF the Buzzard," all do a good job of conveying the flavor of his storytelling. This is an album that never relents from the first note to the last.
Rick Zeigler, along with his wife, Jeanne, owns Indy CD and Vinyl at 806 Broad Ripple Avenue. Back in his musician days, his band opened for the likes of U2, XTC, Gang Of Four, The Pretenders, Los Lobos, and, um, Flock Of Seagulls, among others. You can read all of Rick's reviews at www.indycdandvinyl.com. Email your music questions and comments to rick@BroadRippleGazette.com