wears the trousers magazine


sounding off: november 2009 (i)

In this first part of our November roundup, we take a look at A Fine Frenzy’s festive offering, the unstoppable power of An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump, and a revamped Pepi Ginsberg.

* * *

A Fine Frenzy
Oh Blue Christmas EP •••½
Virgin

When Alison Sudol released her second album Bomb In A Birdcage earlier this year, huge commercial success seemed assured. Word of mouth regarding her 2007 debut One Cell In The Sea had secured her over a million ‘followers’ on Twitter, but pulling the pin to catalyse a chart-busting follow-up proved more difficult and Bomb In A Birdcage spent just one week inside the Billboard Top 100 albums. Sudol must surely be a little disappointed, but the title of this EP can’t be taken as any indication of that. Recorded months before the release of Bomb In A Birdcage, during a sticky LA summer, it’s an enjoyable set of three Christmas classics and three original songs.

Among the former, Sudol’s eerie reinvention of ‘Christmas Time Is Here’ that stands out the most, a weeping pedal steel cascading through waves of horns, piano and strings, though the mandolin tickled ‘Winter Wonderland’ comes close with Sudol’s twinkling, mannered vocal bringing out her playful side. Of the originals, ‘Red Ribbon Foxes’ is luminous and crisp, Sudol’s mysterious lyrics hinting at a deeper tale, while ‘Winter White’ and ‘Wish You Well’ tap more obviously into relationships gone awry but don’t feel indulgent. “Merry Christmas / happy goddamn New Year,” she snaps on ‘Winter White’, providing Oh Blue Christmas with its punchiest, most relatable moment. An unexpected pleasure.

Alan Pedder
UK release date: 03/11/09; www.myspace.com/afinefrenzy

 

 

An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump
Buy A Life EP ••••
Buy A Life

This East London trio have been gathering underground momentum since emerging late last year with their debut EP, These Sins. Armed with some disturbingly wicked sounds and an air of unspoken fuck-you assuredness, C-Bird, D-Bird and X-Bird are more girl-gang than girl-group, with a mile-wide independent streak that Wears The Trousers loves.

Recorded over the summer with the help of Tim Burgess of The Charlatans, Buy A Life is the band’s first release on their fledgling label of the same name. Disappointingly short at just three songs, it nonetheless packs a punch with all the simmering immediacy that has so far characterised their music. Working with two bass guitars and minimal drums played standing up, it’s an atmospheric, thudding trinity that recalls Joy Division, The Jesus & Mary Chain and Sonic Youth. Intense, atmospheric and enthralling, it’s an excellent introduction for those who haven’t yet discovered this exciting trio.

Charlotte Richardson Andrews
UK release date: 30/11/09; www.myspace.com/anexperimentonabirdintheairpump

 

 

Pepi Ginsberg
Shake This EP •••
Park The Van

For years now Wears The Trousers has been shouting the grand name of Pepi Ginsberg, a musical poet from Philadelphia whose delicate and slightly blue compositions are an absolute treasure find with lyrics that thoughtfully stir in the mind. From the raw brilliance of her debut album Orange Juice: Stephanie/Stephanie to the more subtle instrumentation and bluesy themes of last year’s Red, she’s been consistently exciting.

Reflecting on these previous works, Shake This is surprising to say the least. While there were hints on Red that she might venture into a more rhythmically led sphere, Shake This winds up much closer to straightforward indie-pop than we might have expected. Opener ‘The Joker In Faith’ evolves nonchalantly, the drums providing an easy rhythm, as the slightly timid and free-spirited vocals that were so inspiring seem to have found a tonality that is almost foreign to her more confident musical outpourings. The title track heads in an equally casual direction with a pulsating but undemanding rhythm, Ginsberg’s dramatic voice trying to bridge the gap. We’re all for exploring new sounds, but in a way Shake This feels like Ginsberg and her band have traded in their engaging quirks for wider pop appeal.

Anja McCloskey
UK release date: 20/11/09; www.myspace.com/pepiginsberg


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