artwork by Nikie Monteleone
The Histrioniks are up to new tricks on now, their fourth CD. After the psychedelic, garage sounds of “Thin”, “Camouflage Baby” will be a surprise to fans of the band. There are many 'firsts' here and the listener is now introduced to new instrumentation. On the more down-n-dirty tracks; “Time For Love”, “Camouflage Baby” and “Stop This Dream”, Mark Wenner's soulful harmonica rides shotgun alongside of acoustic guitar. On “Doghouse” a great dialogue takes place between Wenner's interpretive harp and the standout Appalachian violin of Amy Shulkin. And finally on the two more somber tracks, “The Last Three Days” and “Abbey”, Chad Goodman Parker makes the songs complete with his Beatle-esque cello in fine “Eleanor Rigby” fashion.
But don't be fooled! Cat's vocals are alive and well on every track alternating between lead and harmony and her finale, “Abbey” is memorable as it is moving. The band also performs it's first cover; a haunting interpretation of The Supremes, “My World Is Empty Without You”- a lock for repeated airplay. With Larry taking to the mic, The Histy's have also struck a musical balance with the interplay of male and female vocals and this gives them a fresh sound. Larry still handles the guitars and drums and the bass playing is in the ever competent hands of Dave Powers.
There is a new flavor here as well: at times the band hits upon a rootsy, 'Americana' sound with hints of country which is new territory for the band. Yes, the 'twang' can be heard in “Doghouse”, “Stop This Dream” and “Interrupted Again”. But if taken in it's entirety, the album is well in sync with late 60's Stones. You can here it the Charlie Watts style drumming, the guitar tones and certainly in the compositions themselves. Sonically, The Histrioniks stay true to form. Mike Potter does a brilliant job of mixing and engineering while veteran mastering guru Bob Speer applies the icing-on-the-cake with kid gloves.
So, if you hung out with The Histrioniks for the the first three CD's then you will certainly understand where they currently reside. If you are new to the band, “Camouflage Baby” is a great place to start. An old school recording combined with catchy melodies and the usual Histrioniks variety and you have a quality CD that will become a mainstay in your musical library.
artwork by Cat Levy - graphic design by Nikie Monteleone
The Histrioniks have just completed their second CD, "About This Girl" on CatErratic Records. A follow up to their debut, "Homesick From The Grave", the acoustic duo have turned a new page; a 180 degree shift in both sound and style. The minimalism of "Homesick" has been replaced with layers of rich harmonies, driving guitars and bass, all built on the foundation of drums, purposely absent on the first CD. The first child, experimental but somewhat cautious has surrendered to the second child; a fearless, tireless rascal who meets the world head on and wins! It's as though the meek have inherited the airwaves and then pulled a fast one on the listener.
"About This Girl", well, it's about this girl, perhaps any girl coming of age and being misunderstood. It's her personal diary put to music and verse. Her journey begins innocently enough - all girls are innocent at first. As the cover art suggests, she is a person of many faces, a woman and a child of great complexity who is willing to try anything. It's not the unholy trinity of sex, drugs, and rock and roll that do her in (although at least two out of three are at work here) but rather the unusual way in which she chooses to live her life. "About This Girl' illustrates the point that life is a cumulative process - you just pick up things along the way.
We hope you enjoy our "girl" - we enjoyed creating her. She's yours for the taking. You can purchase the CD by clicking on Listen/Buy CD's. Find her on Cdbaby and itunes, naked and alive on your radio station or fittingly clothed in the words from your favorite magazine. She'll be there!
artwork by Cat Levy
"These are the days I'll miss when I'm gone
the sunny ones I wish I could save.
As long as there is beauty above me
I'll be homesick from the grave."
And so writes Larry Levy in the title track which appears last on the cd - and anti-title track to be sure. Is this the measure of a good life? Yes! But how would one know? The desire to look back on life from the perspective of the dead is a paradoxical one. Obviously the process is speculative as the experience has yet to happen.
Levy claims part of the idea came from an old "Get Smart" episode when Max, agent 86, fakes his own funeral and waits in the wings to see how people react. Levy does not paint a rosy picture of life to say the least. He does not take us on a melodramatic journey from the cradle to the grave but instead begins life at the bar.
Swizzle Stick shows us a desperate type staring into his drink with a strange focus and attraction
to the object who stirs his drink. The swizzle stick is seen here as an erotic figure. We feel the pain and frustration of rejected advances which has led many a poor soul to the bar to drown in self-pity.
Ghosts: The journey continues from alcoholic spirits to imaginary spirits, the likely outcome of too much drink. But there is something else going on here. Cat's vocals hint at something other than rejection and frustration. Levy claims the idea for this song came from an old poem he wrote years ago inspired by one of his favorite playwrights, Henrik Ibsen.
Mood Swinger: A great title! According to Cat, the song can be summed up in one line, "We used to be swingers, now we are mood swingers." I'll leave it up to you listeners to decipher the code but for me this song is all about lack of personal boundaries and poor impulse control.
Which leads us into the dark, scary world of mania. I Can't Remember When I Died is a frightening piece and is the first and only song where Larry's voice appears. It is to be sure a near-death experience and since both voices are in harmony, one must assume a shared experience? Done in spoken word and then building to a nostalgic climax in major chords, the song vacillates between the dark and the light.
Sirena breaks up the CD and definitely allows sunshine into an otherwise dark existence. Cat's beautiful lilting "la la's" and the minimalist guitar work are a pleasant change and foreshadow the sunny days one will truly miss when gone. A beauty!
Constantly is a sad but beautiful song again minimal in it's innocence. The focal point here is the window and the lost love that passes before the viewer's eyes. The repetition done with "boxed" effect works tos enforce the obsession and anger the insider is forced to see and recall.
Shadow (Cat's Song) is simply about a shy, introverted girl who spent most of her childhood alone and forsaken. Her creativity is not realized or appreciated and despite all outward appearances is truly a heartbroken girl. Very pretty with great harmonies by Cat.
You puts us right back into obsession. Dark and foreboding, the ominous guitar and minimal but suicidal embraced lyrics, tell the tale of a profoundly ill individual. The clock ticks, pounds, and is relentless. One can see the sweaty, agitated brow of someone caught in the Twilight Zone.
Girl In A Cube is Cat's favorite tune. I can see why. Her vocals are wonderful. The song moves without stop and varying only slightly when it hits the chorus running. The song is peppered with a few unusual chords and the ambience of the 12-string strum does not let the listener off the hook. So who is the girl in a cube?
Can't Sleep is probably this writer's favorite tune. Ironically, it is the only instrumental song on the CD. Anyone who has been troubled with insomnia and the crazy thoughts that go with lying prone, eyes wide open, agitated and restless, will be able to relate. In fact, I haven't slept well since I heard this song. The strange time signature, the pacing steps, and the flickering candle-like trip between the dark passionate chords and the culminating picked notes is convincing as it is powerful.
Homesick From The Grave takes us full circle and drops us off face up staring back at the world we just departed. A strange trip indeed. The fact that one can snap one's fingers and whistle into oblivion lightens the burden of death.
At this point I want to re listen to all the songs, to relive what I have just experienced. I think this is what Levy wants us to do; to come full circle, so in a strange way the CD never ends and maybe the few seconds of Cat's laughter at the end makes this happen. I guess it's time for me to retrace my aural steps..............
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