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Old 01-27-2007, 12:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
Moon Pix
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: "Out on tour with Smashing Pumpkins, nature kids, they don't have no function"
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Default The Witches - On Parade (2002, Fall of Rome Records)

1. What Is Yer Preferred Device It
2. Y Do U Make Me Feel Like That Listen
3. I Luv'd Wrong Listen
4. Laughter Joy 'n' Loneliness Listen
5. Who Wants 2 Sleep With The Birthday Grrrl Listen
6. Nuthin' Seem 2 Please U Listen
7. Everything Been Cool Listen
8. Invisible Miserable People Have Reappeared Listen
9. Tryin' 2 Talk 2 U Listen
10. On The Haunted Side Of The House

Reviewing the music of the Witches is a difficult task at best. Little has been written about them, they're an obscurity to say the least and the fact that they're from Detroit, Michigan could conjure up misleading ideas about the kind of music they play. The Witches aren't a typical Detroit band. They have little in common with the punk-blues fusionists that have come to define the sound of Detroit, wether it was Iggy & the Stooges in the '60s and '70s or the White Stripes more recently. In fact they have little in common with other bands period and this is why it makes their music so hard to review. There simply arent many points of reference.

On Parade is one of the quirkiest albums Ive heard in quite a while. The band backing singer/songwriter Troy Gregory has a sound that hints at influences such as Big Star and the Rolling Stones. However the closest comparisons can be made to the early rock n' rollers of the 1950's, the sound of white boy guitar driven American music that rocked without rocking hard. However ideas of a rockabilly/Buddy Holly revivalist band are as far off the mark as saying that they sound like Slayer. Its just so hard to describe the Witches because even though their sound is based on such rock music staples as melodic bass playing and distorted guitars, they approach their influences with a quirkiness and oddball idiosyncrasy similar to the Throwing Muses. The songs are so rough and seemingly unfinished that influences get lost with regularity and just when you think you hear something that reminds you of another band you suddenly realise that it does it.

A lot of this is simply down to the songs themselves. If you played these songs by strumming the chords on an acoustic and singing over it they would still seem weird and quirky just because of the one of a kind melodic and lyrical sensiblities that Troy Gregory has. Nobody else would write melodies like these. Reviews of Gregory's music typically mention ideas of pop music but god knows where pop music comes into it. Gregory's melodies go precisely where you don't expect them to go, veering off in all sorts of strange directions. The sheer unpredictabilty and undisciplined feel of it all totally destroys any pretense of commercial viabilty, radio play or catchiness and this is best heard in such peculiar songs as "Laughter, Joy n' Loneliness" and "Everything Been Cool."

In a similar way his lyrical approach is equally singular. Strange long winded song titles such as "Who Wants to Sleep With the Birthday Girl" and "The Invisible Miserable People Have Reappeared" are just the beginning of it. His songs quite often dwell on girls but not in the form of the love song. Rather, Gregory's songs about girls are often put downs such as "Y Do U Make Me Feel Like That" or the fantastic "I Luv'd Wrong." At times Gregory's lyrics can be minimalistic, drawing comparisons with Kurt Cobain's one verse-one chorus-repeat approach on the first Nirvana album. Sometimes Gregory swaps the lines around in the second pass of a verse or misses out lines altogether. It might seem like laziness or unprofessionalism to a lot of people and it can be quite jilting but its simply yet another thing that sets the Witches apart from other rock bands. That and the fact that they don't use the same 'old tired by now' quiet verse-heavy chorus song structure that everybody from Alanis Morrisette to Placebo seems to have based their careers on.

Musically On Parade has a consistently individual sound. "Y Do You Make Me Feel Like That" plays with mixing blues and country music with rock n' roll, "Who Wants to Sleep With the Birthday Girl" takes a song that would be peculiar anyway and adds a Phil Spector vibe with the accompaning backing vocals on to it and "Nuthin' Seems 2 Please U" has a vaguely blues rock meets post punk sound to it. The whole album was recorded in one week at Ghetto Recorders in Detroit with Jim Diamond of the Dirtbombs, the same studio and same engineer that recorded the White Stripes first album. The sound is completely different to that of the Stripes album though, its soaked in reverb and sounds fuller than the Stripes record. Largely due to the reverb, it sounds more detached, vaguely druggy and less in your face too as the Stripes album and this helps the overall vibe.

Thats what this music is all about - vibe... and what a cool, hip one it is.
There’s a dream that I see, I pray it can be
Look 'cross the land, shake this land - "Maybe Not", C. Marshall
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