Mojo Review Challenge #004 – Voodoo Queens – Chocolate Revenge

MOJO4_FrankZappaWhere I dig into something I’ve not heard before, from the reviews section of old Mojo Magazines, on an irregular basis.

The Voodoo Queens were a big-ish enough deal at the time of Mojo #004 that their name adorns the cover. Along with an interview, there was a lengthy review about their one and only album – Chocolate Revenge.

There were two distinguishing things about Voodoo Queens – their riot grrrl energy and sound, as well as South Asian background of lead singer Anjali Bhatia, as well as the ethnic backgrounds of the others. Along with the emerging Cornershop, the critic world started to wonder if there was a scene coming along. Fear not, as the Strokes came along and that was that.

On the back of some fun singles (‘Supermodel Superficial’) and some making fun of Keanu Reeves, there was some anticipation for the band’s debut record. The result was a slightly over produced record that is not very riot grrrl. A lot of things that probably got A&R’d to be potential hit singles. It sounds anonymously 90s.

There are some fun moments – and they are the silly ones. ‘I’m Not Bitter – I Just Want To Kill You‘ or ‘You’re Dumped‘, are as silly as the titles suggest. Big fat guitars make them even sillier. But then there’s ‘Neptune‘, which sounds like Pavement, or ‘Face Ache‘, which is so one note that it seems almost incompetent. It’s a little all over the place.

Luckily, the album ends with a brace of great pop songs. ‘Shopping Girl Maniac‘, ‘Chocolate Eyes‘ and ‘My Favourite Hand Bag‘ show a band just having fun, but writing catchy songs. ‘My Favourite Hand Bag‘ in particular seems to merge it all together, and the best track on here.

It’s more teen garage rock than the teeth of riot grrrl and maybe their fans turned on them. Regardless, the album didn’t really do anything, none of the songs got away, and the band broke up soon after.

A shame as there is a lot of interesting things about the band and on the record. There’s definitely a fun girl power on show here that would be watered down a few years later. Some cool guitar playing all over the record. But it’s not raw or daring enough to be indie, and to weird for the pop charts.

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My Favourite Album Podcast – Hourly, Daily

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I recently sat down with my friend Jeremy for his wonderful podcast My Favourite Album. I chose to talk about ‘Hourly, Daily‘, the third record by You Am I. There’s a bit about how I discovered the record, but plenty of fun little facts about this album. I once submitted a proposal to write a 33 1/3 book about this album. Maybe I will write it one day regardless.

You can listen to it here

Or better still, read about the episode, or find it on iTunes.

Mojo Review Challenge#003 – Pentangle – Basket Of Light

MOJO3_JohnLeeHookerWhere I dig into something I’ve not heard before, from the reviews section of old Mojo Magazines, on an irregular basis.

#003 – Pentangle – Basket Of Light

My love affair with folk music lasted only a couple of years and leaned very American. The stars of the English folk scene I know but don’t really know. I smidgen of John Martyn. Nick Drake of course. The music of Pentangle and Bert Jansch has always alluded me.

I have friends (hello Tom) who love Jansch. Every so often you meet a devotee. Many of my musical favourites loved him too – especially the American folkies and guitar heroes. For me, he seems to have made 80 albums and one of those people whose catalogues were impenetrable.

Pentangle was his band and this record, Basket Of Light, is their most famous and commercially successful. It’s a record that makes a lot of lists. I liked the album cover (it reminded me of The Beach Boys‘ album Holland). This record was reviewed as part of some big catalogue move. Mojo saw it fit to give a whole double page to a bunch of Jansch related releases.

I don’t know if I’m ever going to be a big English folk guy. This apparent classic of the genre is helping any. There’s something so twee and distancing about it. I also find the subject matter on this album so distancing. It’s so impressionist it fails to really make an impression. Again this might be me unfairly comparing it to its American brother, who seemed to say everything music could say in the 60s (and that’s just Bob Dylan).

You can definitely hear some cool guitar stuff, but the baroque-y, almost choral music just puts me off. Light Flight and Springtime Promises are lovely. Jansch in particular has a lovely vocal. Lyke-Wake Dirge – utterly horrible. I’d also like to note here that I’ve never bought into that very Tolkien-esque lyric bands.

I’ll keep this on the iPod a while longer, and let it perculate. I feel like there is something I’m not hearing in that pastoral English Folk music.

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