Monday, July 22, 2013

The Lowdown is an Up, A Tribute To Faye Hunter

Let’s Active was a gateway band for me. I got into them just as I was getting into REM, simply because I wanted to hear anything Mitch Easter produced. From there it was onto bands like Game Theory, the DB’s, The Paisley Underground, all the bands in that scene, Don Dixon and Marti Jones, and many more.

I loved Mitch Easter’s music, “Waters Part,” “Easy Does,” “Every Word Means No,” “In Little Ways,” “Reflecting Pool,” “Every Dog Has it’s Day,” “Room With A View,” “Bad Machinery,” and so on. But on the first two Let’s Active albums, Afoot and Cypress, I came to realize that as much as I loved Mitch’s music, I loved Faye Hunter’s more. Everything she sang,  and her terrific bass playing. When I wanted a pick me up, Faye’s songs were the ones that worked best with me. “Blue Line,” “Lowdown, “ just wonderful.

While Faye’s only lead vocal on Let’s Active’s third album, Big Plans For Everybody, on “Horizon” she also made her presence felt with her bass and harmonies.  That whole album is a tonic for the troops with me. 

After Big Plans, Faye left the band, and I lost touch, only to make her acquaintance on Facebook decades later. Her posts lifted me up like her songs did. I found her to be a very caring, giving, loving, funny, sweet person.  And a great artist. I’ve seen her work.

And now she’s gone. Her songs will live on with me, and give me strength, just the way Scott Miller’s songs will for now -- forever.  Long live Scott, long live Faye, two fantastic, and very underrated musicians, just the way Let’s Active is a very underrated band. RIP.   
Andrea Weiss

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Self-titled EP
Video for “Dreaming”
RCA Records.

This band sounds a lot like Passion Pit, and what makes Smallpools better than PP is that Smallpools has none of the irritating quirks that make PP so hard to listen to.  Smallpools is a straight up rock/dance band, and perfect for the club floor.  And their lyrics make you think,

The video, and single, “Dreaming,” is sort of a musical riff on Groundhog Day, where the lead singer of the band finds himself at the same party over and over again, everywhere he goes. First he think it’s fun, then he panics, and he resigns himself to his fate. But then the time loop breaks at the end in a really sweet way. The situation is pretty funny, and the clip is a lot of fun to watch. 
Andrea Weiss

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Victoria M.

Kirin J Callinan.
Victoria M Video
Self Directed
Terrible Records/XL Recordings

From his debut album Embracism is a clip that is camp at it’s coolest, no bad taste here. If anything it’s a parody of the Young and the Restless  soap opera, with Callinan playing all the parts himself, He’s very convincing in drag for all the female characters; ditto for all the various male characters. 

The lyrics deal with falling in love with two people, and he can’t tell Victoria about it. But all the female characters embody all the women he loves, and the men he wished he could be. He also plays a single keyboard. Most of the backgrounds for the characters are trippy and drenched in red velvet.  All in all stunning, a lot of fun to watch, a standout track from a great debut.
Andrea Weiss

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Kirin J Callinan

Kirin J Callinan
Siberia Records/Terrible Records/XL Recordings

Callinan is a musician from Sidney, Australia, and this is his stunning US debut. He’s been performing in Australia for many years. 

What sounds like a fusion of rock and electronica is actually processed guitars. This is a relief because processed guitars sound better and more natural than synths can ever sound.   And while these are flowing, fluid, melodic guitar sounds, they’re also very hard guitars, pushing things toward the crunchier end of singer/songwriter rock. Alex Akers of the Melbourne, Australian duo Forces duets on “Halo” and his vocals add very good textures.

The lyrics, on the surface, come off as self-involved, but there is a fine line between self-aware and self-involved, and Callinan stays on the self-aware side. Self-involved singer/songwriters are a dime-a-dozen, but a consciously self-aware musician is not as common, which makes this album interesting, different, and even a bit original.  This makes me cheer, because he stands out, and he throws in some gay content to put a fine point on things.
Andrea Weiss


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