Category Archives: Videos

Ray Sawyer

Dr. Hook confirms everything you want to believe about the 70s

Okkervil River’s Will Sheff posted a fantastic essay on his “very-favorite-ever cinematic document of a rock and roll band” which happens to be “a 10-dollar import DVD of Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show doing a live-for-German-TV performance sometime in 1974.”

It’s interesting timing, because just a couple months ago GLONO co-founder Derek Phillips, who I call Phil, turned me on to the glory that is video footage of Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show from the 70s. I knew “Cover of Rolling Stone” from classic rock radio, but didn’t know anything else and had certainly never seen them live.

Seeing this video blew my mind. Will Sheff put a lot of thought into his essay, but what we’re presenting below are our first reactions to experiencing this crazy, wasted party that was a live Dr. Hook show.

Session Start (Jake:Phil): Thu Nov 29 13:08:45 2012
[13:08] Phil: Hey
[13:09] Jake: yo
[13:10] Phil: You see that crazy shit I posted to the GLONO FB?
[13:10] Jake: no
[13:10] Phil: Dude
[13:10] Phil: Take a break and watch it
[13:10] Jake: the dr hook video?
[13:10] Phil: yes
[13:11] Phil: it is awesome
[13:11] Jake: watching now
[13:11] Jake: those guys are wasted
[13:11] Phil: big time
[13:11] Jake: not in tune at all
[13:11] Phil: Oh no
[13:12] Phil: I mean, why tune up? You’re only on TV
[13:12] Jake: i didn’t realize that’s what dr hook looks like
[13:12] Phil: Looked
[13:12] Phil: past tense, by a long shot
[13:12] Jake: wow
[13:12] Phil: oh yeah
[13:12] Phil: keep watching
[13:12] Jake: the shirt thing!
[13:13] Jake: eyepatch!?!!!
[13:13] Phil: hahahaha
[13:13] Phil: I know. It’s crazy
[13:13] Jake: who’s george?
[13:13] Jake: he’s hairy.
[13:13] Jake: i can practically smell them from here
[13:14] Jake: the eyepatch guy’s dance moves are COLOSSAL
[13:14] Jake: he is the coolest guy i’ve ever seen
[13:14] Jake: wait. that SOLO?
[13:14] Jake: WHAT?
[13:15] Jake: these guys are not sober
[13:15] Phil: I don’t think so either!
[13:15] Jake: OMG
[13:15] Phil: I think they’ve been drinking!
[13:15] Jake: this is the greatest performance i’ve ever seen
[13:15] Phil: you’re welcome.
[13:16] Jake: holy crap
[13:16] Phil: I had to make sure you saw it
[13:16] Jake: this confirms everything i thought was true about the 70s
[13:16] Jake: but only had photo evidence
[13:16] Jake: like from goose lake
[13:16] Jake: or the grand river raft race
[13:18] Phil: When you have a minute go YouTube Willie’s 4th of July picnic videos
[13:18] Phil: more of the same
[13:18] Phil: pure awesome
[13:19] Jake: reading dr hook’s wiki page now
[13:20] Phil: dude has lived
[13:20] Phil: and his album with Dan Auerbach is tight
[13:20] Phil: …and I am not a fan of Dr. Hook’s music normally
[13:23] Jake: dude that’s dr john
[13:23] Jake: different doctor
[13:24] Phil: Oh ho!
[13:25] Phil: Yes, I meant Dr. John, not Dr. Hook
[13:25] Phil: but what do I know about any of this?
[13:25] Phil: I have multiple work conversations going on
[13:25] Phil: I don’t know who I am
[13:25] Phil: where am I?
[13:25] Phil: I am as drunk as those dudes
[13:25] Jake: i want to know what kind of show that dr hook song was filmed for
[13:26] Jake: because if that got played on TV, that makes the 70s even better
[13:26] Phil: right
[13:28] Jake: holy cow. more: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0yCzCEgfqE

[13:28] Jake: sounds like hasil adkins
[13:29] Phil: I would like to get loaded and watch these videos with Father John Misty
[13:29] Jake: YES
[13:29] Phil: he is my current hero
[13:29] Jake: i was thinking that when i saw the dance moves
[13:30] Jake: i hope he tours with phosphorescent and jonathan wilson
[13:30] Jake: wouldn’t that be a tour?
[13:30] Phil: oh fuck, that would be awesome
[13:30] Jake: i’d follow them around like the dead
[13:30] Phil: hahahaha
[13:30] Phil: “I am going on hiatus. See you guys in three months”
[13:30] Jake: dig the drummer’s t-shirt
[13:31] Jake: i swear these dudes regularly hung out on the brownshoe [My dad's boat when I was a kid. - ed.]
[13:31] Phil: hahaha
[13:31] Phil: Dude, that’s John C. Reilly on drums!
[13:31] Jake: ha
[13:31] Jake: i have found my new favorite band
[13:31] Phil: these dudes were fucking LIVING it, man
[13:31] Jake: people loved the 50s in the 70s
[13:31] Phil: look at them!
[13:32] Jake: sweating balls
[13:32] Phil: they sure did
[13:32] Jake: i love the ragged harmonies though
[13:32] Phil: I know nothing about Dr. Hook
[13:33] Phil: I need to fix that
[13:33] Jake: srsly
[13:33] Jake: new favorite band!
[13:33] Phil: no joke
[13:33] Jake: unreal
[13:33] Phil: Portland is all about tribute shows right now. I could pitch this easily
[13:33] Phil: The rare occasions I do hang out now is with dudes who look like this
[13:33] Jake: looks like that whole don kirshner show is on youtube
[13:34] Phil: bad ass
[13:34] Jake: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=dr+hook+kirchner
[13:34] Jake: there goes my productivity
[13:34] Phil: uh oh: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iYpboTjtoQ

[13:35] Jake: oops. turning that off immediately
[13:35] Phil: the video is pretty awesome
[13:35] Jake: watching rollin’ in my sweet baby’s arms from 76
[13:35] Jake: in HD
[13:35] Phil: link
[13:35] Jake: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaE0D852n3Q

[13:37] Jake: i wish we still had don kirshner’s rock concert
[13:37] Phil: this band must have been a riot on the road
[13:37] Phil: can you imagine?
[13:37] Jake: i can
[13:37] Phil: I know this dude named Matt who tours as The Don of Division street who looks just like that dude without the patch
[13:38] Jake: i have a new favorite band
[13:38] Phil: no shit
[13:39] Phil: one of the things I’ll miss the most about Portland is The Hoot, which is a party once a month on this farm in SE Portland
[13:39] Phil: looks and sounds a lot like this
[13:39] Jake: another 50s cover: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olQNes_mq8I

[13:40] Jake: these dudes are actually good, soulful singers
[13:40] Phil: This concert is incredible
[13:40] Jake: they’re just insane
[13:40] Phil: WTF?!?!? How have we missed this band?
[13:40] Phil: until now?
[13:40] Jake: this is exactly what is missing from indie rock
[13:40] Phil: No shit, this is exactly what The Hoot is like
[13:41] Phil: not as drunk or high, but this vibe and look
[13:41] Jake: these dudes clearly love each other too
[13:41] Jake: i bet their records sound terrible
[13:43] Jake: looks like this is the first song from the kirshner concert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uF0_947VPNA

[13:43] Jake: sounds like a beegees ballad
[13:44] Jake: wtf?
[13:44] Phil: I am just catching up on Only 16
[13:45] Jake: srsly this song could be on the soundtrack for grease
[13:45] Phil: hahaha
[13:45] Jake: and now that bearded non eyepatch singer is reminding me of bobier
[13:45] Jake: which is creeping me out a little
[13:45] Jake: i think i’m coming down…
[13:48] Phil: “Sexy Eyes” is Dr. Hook
[13:48] Phil: I had no idea
[13:48] Jake: what is that?
[13:48] Phil: Oh you’ll know it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJ3DWa_QLO4

[13:48] Jake: DISCO SUCKS
[13:49] Phil: This is more like it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHufyCHSF1U

[13:49] Jake: man, they must’ve disappointed a lot of people
[13:49] Jake: starting out that great and crazy
[13:50] Jake: and ending up disco
[13:50] Phil: everyone was finding coke together, man
[13:50] Phil: Holy shit, watch the yodel song I just sent
[13:50] Phil: they have a BEZ
[13:50] Phil: crazy hill dancing
[13:50] Jake: amazing
[13:51] Phil: good lord
[13:51] Jake: that dancer is my hero
[13:51] Jake: omg
[13:51] Phil: is this not amazing?
[13:51] Jake: this is fantastic
[13:51] Jake: his “butt dance”
[13:52] Phil: complete insanity
[13:52] Phil: OK, I think Dr. Hook and The Medicine Show is the era
[13:52] Jake: yes
[13:52] Jake: seems to be
[13:53] Jake: although this kirshner show is 76
[13:53] Jake: which seems to be post-medicine show
[13:53] Phil: still buzzing
[13:53] Jake: yes
[13:53] Phil: craziness
[13:53] Jake: shel silverstein wrote their first album
[13:53] Phil: what?
[13:54] Jake: and some of the second, incl cover of the rolling stone
[13:54] Phil: crazy time
[13:54] Jake: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Hook_%26_the_Medicine_Show
[13:55] Jake: they’ve got a 1975 live album: Bankrupt [It's actually a studio album. - ed.]
[13:55] Jake: i bet that’s the one to get
[13:55] Jake: i don’t normally like live albums
[13:55] Jake: but with these guys, i bet that’s the winner
[13:56] Jake: they have a song (written by silverstein) called looking for pussy
[13:59] Jake: ok i’m streaming their album sloppy seconds now
[14:00] Phil: I am listening to Essential Dr. Hook & Medicine Show on Spotify
[14:00] Jake: i might switch to that one
[14:01] Jake: ha
[14:01] Jake: that amg review confirms what we feared
[14:02] Jake: “ramshackle, Shel Silverstein-singing, goofy bar-band hippies”
[14:02] Jake: yes please
[14:03] Phil: more of that!
[14:04] Jake: cover of the rolling stone is pretty perfect though
[14:05] Phil: yes
[14:05] Jake: it needs to go on a mix immediately before or after the doobies’ “black water”
[14:05] Phil: right!
[14:06] Jake: someone needs to sample that “aww beatutiful” at the very end of that song.
[14:06] Jake: (if they haven’t already)
[14:06] Jake: sylvia’s mother kinda sucks.
[14:08] Phil: it does
[14:08] Jake: i bet sab would love it
[14:08] Phil: of course
[14:10] Jake: this band is weird
[14:11] Jake: i don’t understand how bobby keys is NOT in this band though
[14:12] Jake: how did they NOT have a sax player at all?
[14:13] Jake: too many lame ballads
[14:14] Phil: yeah, more party music
[14:15] Jake: hilarious: mog shows similar artists as three dog night, ozark mt daredevils, leo sayer, olivia newton john, status quo, rod stewart, and harry nilsson
[14:16] Phil: jesus…
[14:17] Jake: i’m switching to something in mog called alive in america
[14:17] Jake: by its tracklist, i’m guessing it’s 1976 ish
[14:17] Phil: There was a really interesting article I can’t find anymore about Amazon’s recommendation machine and one of the lead developers said, “It’s more about what’s NOT recommended than what is.”
[14:18] Jake: it’s just not as good without the video
[14:18] Phil: Dude cited The White Album as an example. On the surface, The White Album would be a great recommendation for huge numbers of music fans. But he says everyone who wants the White Album has it
[14:19] Jake: huh
[14:19] Phil: something like that
[14:19] Phil: I want a live Dr. Hook album from that era
[14:20] Phil: or just a great audio file from the Kirshner show
[14:20] Phil: I’ll take that and be happy
[14:20] Jake: someone should sell the complete don kirshner rock concert series on bluray
[14:20] Phil: mos def
[14:20] Jake: i wish licensing wasn’t such a pain
[14:21] Phil: yeah
[14:21] Jake: i wish copyright would expire after a decent amount of time
[14:21] Phil: like it used to
[14:22] Phil: BRB

Olivia Newton-John Travolta - This Christmas

John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John – This Christmas

Olivia Newton-John Travolta - This ChristmasJohn Travolta & Olivia Newton-JohnThis Christmas (Universal)

The pairing is complete nostalgia. There is no other reason that John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John are together for a Christmas album aside from the fact that they were both cast together in a small little movie musical called Grease over thirty years ago.

Grease has flourished since its first run on charm alone. How else can you explain the impossible plot of an Australian immigrant–who is hot off an innocent summer fling with a local gearhead–as she navigates the social landscape of high school with a collective of sexually active girls, headed by a 34-year old Stockard Channing?

As the main characters in the film, Olivia and Travolta aren’t particularly compatible on screen and their voices don’t blend together all that notably during their duets. Regardless, they have managed to become the biggest selling duet in pop history and their presence in Grease completes the film’s campy homage to 50s B-movies, giving all of that aforementioned improbability a free pass.

How these characters have managed to ride Greased Lightening up through the skies and endured for so long is pretty remarkable, so the idea of them returning together to perform Christmas music isn’t completely out of the realm. Unfortunately, when one doesn’t properly attend to the execution of such a reunion, what you get is a record that’s more acknowledged for its weird aftertaste than musical flavor.

I won’t even mention the cover, because it’d be like bitching about how Kraft Macaroni and Cheese tastes nothing like a homemade batch of the gooey comfort food. This is truth in advertising, and the only thing that would make the cover of This Christmas more awesome is if Travolta sported a cheesy seasonal sweater.

As hard as it is to be polite about the cover art, I simply cannot get away from all of the tabloid overtones when Travolta takes over the resistant role of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” We’re all accustomed to Olivia’s occasional glimpses as the sexual aggressor (Shake Shack, anyone?), but to hear Danny Zuko put up a fight to Sandy’s advances thirty years after the fact makes for a perfect hushed whisper of “Beard!”

There are other laugh-out-loud moments within This Christmas that are much less juvenile, but equally surreal. Like the part during “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” when Barbara Streisand pops in for a verse for absolutely no reason at all.

Speaking of guest cameos, there are tons of ‘em. From another brake-slamming appearance (this time with James Taylor on “Deck The Halls”) to a not-so-subtle nod to the Scientology folks with some ivory-tickling from Chick Corea, John and Olivia bring a whole slew of friends to join in their Christmas spirit and it’s as sincere as you pretending to think the gag gift you get at work during your department’s holiday party is funny.

There’s octogenarian Tony Bennett who drops in for “Winter Wonderland,” if you count having your verses recorded at a completely different studio during a completely different session as “dropping in.”

ONJ brings out longtime musical partner John Farrar for the record’s lone original track “I Think You Might Like It.” Farrar was responsible for many of Olivia’s biggest hits, and he served as both the writer and producer for “You’re The One That I Want,” the hit single that propelled the pair into the record books.

Farrar’s latest tune is being called the sequel to that Grease classic, and it’s hard to dispute that claim since it follows nearly the same chord progression under the guise of some light country swag.

Clearly, I’m not the man who should be reviewing This Christmas because I’m overflowing with cynicism at every turn.

So I ask my wife, who often fills the house with a bit of Christmas singing of her own during the holidays, to offer her opinion of the pairing. Suddenly, I find her singing along with This Christmas, causing me to consider that maybe it is my jaded outlook that’s causing me to be so dismissive of this holiday collection.

When I ask her if This Christmas has caused her spontaneous outburst of seasonal caroling, she admitted that it wasn’t the quality of the songs that prompted her singing, but just the familiarity of the material.

Indeed, the selection doesn’t stray far from the obligatory set list that every holiday record seems to cull from. Case in point: ONJ has now selected “Silent Night” for every Christmas album she has released.

This Christmas is the perfect holiday record for anyone who has been waiting since Two Of A Kind for the return of John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. Beyond that, This Christmas is another run-of-the-mill collection of uninspired holiday classics featuring a bunch of questionable guest appearances and two longstanding friends who can’t seem to get away from those hallowed halls of Rydell High.

An extra star has been added for this release as all proceeds from the sale of This Christmas go to the artist’s charitable foundations.

Video: John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John – “I Think You Might Like It”

Cat Power - Sun

Cat Power – Sun

Cat PowerSun (Matador)

The story goes that when Chan Marshall set off to begin the follow up to the very hard to follow up The Greatest, she presented her progress to a friend. She could tell that the new material didn’t grab her friend in quite the manner that she hoped, and after some additional probing, the friend declared that the new songs sounded pretty much like any other Car Power song.

And Chan Marshall was tired of sounding like the “old” Cat Power.

More power to her–pun intended–as the process of avoiding stagnation has given rock and roll some of its best moments.

It has also given it some of its worst, and the risk for epic failure gets greater when artists begin to incorporate other styles and genres that are way beyond their limits. For example: Bob Mould may be a fine dj on the weekends, but that doesn’t mean he makes a mean EDM record.

More to the point, it doesn’t mean that I want to hear a Bob Mould EDM album either. I want my musical heroes to be brave enough to listen to that bit of self-doubt in their heads that says, “Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this.”

Chan Marshall shouldn’t be making records like Sun, plain and simple. That’s my opinion, and it comes from the same one that thinks The Greatest was a risky album on its own. It, and to a lesser extent Jukebox, positioned Chan into promising new direction. Instead, she has now squandered that promise into a half-baked record of songs that seem to insinuate that the recording session for Sun was nothing more than one big distraction.

There are beats, rhythms, vocoders, beeps, and other creations that seem to be the result of a shopping spree in the electronics area of Guitar Center. There’s no rhyme or reason to when and why these sounds are introduced in a song, so you’re left to assume that shit just kept getting added on until Chan finally had the empathy to say “Stick a fork in it. It’s done.”

The nonsense starts early. The opener, “Cherokee,” gradually brings the listeners into Chan’s left turn, starting with a shimmering guitar before the manufactured beats make their entrance.

And you know what? It’s ok for a moment. When Chan mutters “Never knew love like this,” she sounds like she’s on the other end of a dial-up internet connection. Big beats come in and things get a little shaky, but again, Marshall hides it with a great chorus of repeated “Marry me to the sky,” bringing a bit of a lyrical connection with the song title.

Then, at exactly 3:05 into “Cherokee,” the sound of a fucking hawk or some other bird comes in. Immediately, I was like “What the fuck was that?!”

I quickly rewound and discovered the truth, and it was at that moment that I decided that I didn’t like the new Cat Power album.

The title track is just an overloaded mess of processed vocals and I’ve even started to lose interest into the briefly infectious lead-off single, “Ruin.”

My wife, who owns quite a large collection of Glee product, declares “3, 6, 9” as “strangely good” while it only makes me say, “I see what you did there!” What Marshall comes up with is a hooky bit of prose that repeats ad infinitum.

The darker moments are the best, and they will be the only moments that I’ll end up leaving in my playlist after this review posts. “Always On My Own” and “Human Being” are harrowing tales, but it’s “Manhattan” that serves as the best interpretation of Marshall’s desire to be different.

With it’s cheesy drum machine and simple, four-step piano phrase, Marshall double-tracks her voice with an emotive lead over her trademarked low-end mumble. “Don’t look at the moon tonight,” she warns “It will never be Manhattan.”

How can I stay mad at a line like that? I can’t, but I can leave off a good chunk of Sun and wonder if this is the work of a woman who’s heart isn’t in it anymore. Because Sun sounds more like an obligation, if you ask me, with each and every electronic addition seemingly introduced to cover up the fact that the album has very little heart behind it.

It is a record that began with a notion that it needed to be different, when it should have been looked at as a record that needed to be better than The Greatest.

Video: Cat Power – “Cherokee”

MP3: Cat Power – “Ruin”

The Mountain Goats - Cry For Judas

New Mountain Goats video: Cry for Judas

Video: The Mountain Goats – “Cry for Judas”

Looks like Merge Records gave the Mountain Goats a video budget! Peter Hughes plays the dad and he has two daughters, one with a bloody nose and one who worships Satan.

His wife apparently once cheated on him in the garage with Jon Wurster, the very same garage where Hughes now helps his Satanic daughter fix her bike. Ultimately, Hughes murders John Darnielle in the very same garage. Or perhaps the wife actually cheated with Darnielle, and the murder scene is a flashback. Who knows?

Regardless, the message is clear: we all do bad things. Wives cheat, husbands kill, daughters get knocked up, other daughters worship the devil and make spooky art. And yet the important thing is to survive. “I’m still here, but all is lost.”

The acting in this is remarkably good for a music video. Especially Peter Hughes and both daughters. Subtle but sublime. Of course, the rat steals the show, that little fucking ham.

MP3: The Mountain Goats – “Cry For Judas” (SoundCloud link)

Joyce Manor - Of All The Things I Will Soon Grow Tired

Joyce Manor – Of All The Things I Will Soon Grow Tired

Joyce ManorOf All The Things I Will Soon Grow Tired (Asian Man)

I guess I’m supposed to ignore the fact that Joyce Manor do little more than deliver a very competent blend of late 20th Century punk rock and praise them for their “honesty” and “DIY ethos.” There’s a place for that, particularly when it’s been years since you’ve been away from such things, but to be completely honest, I’m having a hard time giving such a recommendation for something that I literally forgot about reviewing three weeks after I originally listened to it for said purpose.

Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired is a swift 9-track e.p. of punchy angst that alternates between straight-up lo-fi acoustic barks to garage blasts, rehashing the same chords that others have traveled and done so more memorably.

Christ, even the cover of “Video Killed The Radio Star” sounds like it’s in the line-up as nothing more than a novelty cut, ignoring the obvious that Joyce Manor’s generation has no fucking clue what a video even is, let alone believe the death rattle that they originally portended to channel.

While The Buggles were far from being groundbreakers and even farther from becoming legitimate prophets, there was at least a sense of believable dialogue when that song originally aired. For Joyce Manor, there is little evidence throughout Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired that they possess even the slightest hint of looking forward, never mind attempting to make sure the title of their e.p. is anything but a reflection of what’s exactly inside the package.

Video: Joyce Manor – “Drainage / If I Needed You There”

Husky - Forever So

Husky – Forever So

HuskyForever So (Sub Pop)

Our favorite Seattle label is now making its way down under to find the next big thing up here. Husky represents their first signing from Melbourne, with the moniker actually the first name of the band’s guitar and vocalist.

The only “Husky” I knew growing up was the name of a JC Penny clothing line for fat kids. It didn’t last; who wants a tag on your jeans that scream “Feel free to bully my fat ass.”

I don’t know Husky Gawenda’s waist size, but I do know the kind of music he creates because it’s the same kind of music that Sub Pop has been pushing ever since they banked on Fleet Foxes. Maybe Poneman related to such lines as “I went walking in the woods today/I found a path/It led me astray.” (“The Woods”), imagining the big continent of Australia resembled the redwoods of the Northwest.

It’s not that I don’t subscribe to this kind of music. In fact, I’ve got a soft spot for anything remotely beautiful and sensitive within the confines of a folk-rock structure. Which is exactly what Husky delivers on Forever So. And depending on how cold and hard your own heart is, the results of Gawenda’s breathy croon can be a hit or miss affair.

“Hey man, do you want to hear a story about me?” begins “Animals & Freaks,” and before you’re given a chance to respond with the affirmative, Gawenda has already declared “Fuck you, I’m telling you my story anyway.” He’s assumed the role of an old man, telling you the tale of a chance encounter with a woman who he’s spent “three weeks in a cheap motel” before watching her depart with an eagle to go catch snakes in Mexico.

I swear to God I’m not making this up.

Yes, it’s the endlessly romantic and utterly unbelievable lyrics that make Forever So such an acquired taste. If only there were more moments like the wonderful opening “Tidal Wave,” which paints an account of a relationship within the claustrophobic cityscapes while Gawenda dreams of the day when it will all come tumbling down, leaving only him and his beau to enjoy the serenity of their love within the uncluttered landscape of natural beauty.

Now that’s more like it!

Sure, it’s a dynamic that may work better with members of the fairer sex, but it also demonstrates that there’s still a large proportion of empathetic types in this world that can relate to the sticky-sweet feelings that love provides. Forever So also shows that we’re still struggling to come up with the words to adequately describe those feelings.

Video: Husky – “The Woods”

MP3: Husky – “Tidal Wave”

MP3: Husky – “History’s Door”

Audio: Husky – Forever So [FULL ALBUM STREAM]

Christian Mistress - Possession

Christian Mistress – Possession

Christian MistressPossession (Relapse)

If memory serves, Girlschool was the only band of The New Wave of British Heavy Metal that featured women in the line-up.

I bring this up because you cannot get away from the fact that Olympia, Washington’s Christian Mistress conjures up the exact kind of feel that is reserved for those NWOBHM imports circa 1981 and they feature one member of the opposite sex in a role that’s typically reserved for some homely piece of sausage.

Christine Davis is the lead singer of Christian Mistress, and from now until the moment the band breaks up, you’ll be reminded of the fact that she’s a woman in every single media mention. Those comments will usually be followed up with some passive-aggressive response on how gender doesn’t matter in genres like this.

The fact is, it does kind of matter. It’s a distraction to the band because all of that focus on Ms. Davis undermines how shit hot the band really is. The musicianship taking place behind this woman should be satisfactory enough because they’re awfully good and they staunchly adhere to the NWOBHM school of awesomeness.

Guitarists Oscar Sparbel and Ryan McClain channel the dueling guitar masters of the late 70s/early 80s (think Glen and KK or Adrian and Dave) with such fluidity that you’ll be looking for a Christian Mistress patch to put on your faded jean jacket, provided it still fits.

And now that I’ve already succumbed to the cheap tactic of pointing out the lack of a penis on Christine Davis, let’s be completely honest by admitting that she’s probably the weakest part of Christian Mistress’ sophomore release, Possession.

Her voice is gruff, smoky, and it offers a certain degree of novelty to the proceedings. But beyond that, her chops are pretty limited in range, becoming a bit samey after a few spins and offering little in terms of emotion. And that’s kind of important when you’re dealing with matters of possession, pentagrams and all things dark.

The production is straight-up documentary style, hinting that the members have spent a few hours in the woodshed, carving out their craft and making sure the performances are presented with legitimacy.

The lyrics provide a bit of a challenge as they try to match wits with the darkness the rest of the band’s creative fuel. Stray from the music and you’ll stumble on lines like “Eternity is a long time…but it’s all in your mind” and wonder how Christian Mistress can get away with such nonsense.

It’s the interplay between McClain and Sparbel that manages to lift Possession from the dead-weight of its own ridiculousness, providing the record with its true emotional content, its historical accuracy and ultimately, the record’s real voice.

Video: Christian Mistress – “Pentagram and Crucifix”

Full album stream: Christian Mistress – Possession