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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Carnival Strippers

Name: Carnival Strippers
Album: Reveal
Year: 1994
Style: Country & Blues Based Rock
Similar Bands: Pretenders, Cracker, Shakespears Sister
"One-Word" Review: Jangley-Western-Rock
Based Out Of: Milwaukee, WI
Label: Fox Records, Zoo Entertainment, BMG
Reveal - cover & cd sleeve back
Reveal - inside liner notes & sleeve cover & CD
Reveal (1994)
  1. Shifting Sands 3:29
  2. Cot 5:24
  3. Mind Letting Go 2:57
  4. Deep End 4:32
  5. Hold On 4:30
  6. Be Good to Me 4:58
  7. Objects in the Mirror 4:40
  8. Follow 4:39
  9. Painted Shut 4:11
  10. Cracked Man 4:08
  11. Take One Guess 5:01
  12. Well Weathered Man 4:36
Album Rating (1-10):
5.5

Members & Other Bands:
Steve Jordan - Producer & mixed, Bass, Drums, Vox
Mike Hoffman - Producer & Engineer, Bass (E*I*E*I*O)
Loey Nelson - Guitar, lead vox
Keith Brammer - Bass (Die Kreuezen/Wreck)
Niko Bolas - Mixed
Larry (the King) Mazer - Management (Entertainment Services Umlimited)
Kirk McFarlin - Asst Engineer, Guitar (Ecoteur)
Mark Hartzell - Asst. Engineer
Mike "Gibby" Gibson - Engineering
Doug Sax - Mastering
Rongo Gremp - Drums
Charley Drayton - Bass
Steve Fowler - Vox
Rev. Ernest O. Norquist - Spoken Word
Wendell greene - A&R
K. Lee Hammond - Art Direction
Nancy Ogami - Caligraphy
Ann Cutting - Photography
J Shimon / J. Lindemann - Portrait Photography

Unknown-ness: I'm not sure why I got this album, but I remember getting it years ago, because it was cheap, and because I thought they were a different band (I don't know who I got them confused with). It is a promo CD copy, with a sleeve and (unusually enough) the liner notes. Since there have been years since I got this, and I don't remember what it sounds like, I can only guess from the inside liner notes that they are going to be a gothic (by the calligraphy), alt-country (by the color and plains landscape) band.

Album Review: The first track was their single: "Shifting Sands." From the start, guitars waste no time playing the hook: a choppy, catchy repetitive guitar melody, which is backed up by a similar bass line. Female vocals are added, resembling something between the Pretenders and Indigo Girls. The musical break is a noise fueled, guitar-fuzz jam. "Cot" starts off as is a tired, lazy track. Slide and acoustic guitars create a dusty, western picture. "Mind Letting Go" starts off with a quick burst of guitars and energy that are carried through out the track. The chorus is very catchy, and the song is a basic electrified folk song. You can hear the campfire guitar under all the fuzz and loud percussion, and imagine how great the demo must have sounded. "Deep End" is nothing too remarkable. It is a mid-paced, steady, side-to-side head bopping tune based in alternative music production. It contains many repetitive lyrics and has a solid musical base through out. It ends with some fuzz as all there instruments wind down. "Hold On" is a slower country ballad. There is a little Neko Case in her vocals for this song. It is not too slow, and it does not drag on, but it feels like another campfire chant. "Be Good To Me" is a mystic, earthy, gothic tune, accented with slide guitar, and quick gypsy-like guitar playing. The vocals sound spaced and drugged out. A little Shakespears Sister-ish.

"Objects in the Mirror" is a truck driving honky-tonk song. There are little sexy hiccups of high-pitched syllables throughout the song. "Follow" is a standard rock-folky song, that starts off with singing and underplayed instruments, then blossoms into an anthemic rock song, declaring "It don't really matter what the politicians do / religious leaders say" and reverts back to predominantly vocals with minimal music, before rocking out to the end of the track. "Painted Shut" is produced with that warbley revolving, echoy sound of alternative rock guitar and bass. There is a musical break that slows things down, but continues to sway. But the song quickly picks up the former melody and rock symmetry of the beginning. There is a musical break down at the end, and the song fades out with buzz and fuzz. Whispering, yet loud vocals start of "Cracked Man" and a driving drum beat follows them, like the drums from Bon Jovi's "Lay Your Hands On Me." There are spoken word vocals overlapping the music around 2 minutes into the piece, and they return around 3 minutes, but are mostly drowned out with the music and singing vocals, and continue to the end of the song. "Take One Guess" begins like a slow Soul Asylum song. It then quickly becomes a country soaked, bluesy, swaggering, story-song; complete with a crying guitar instrumental break. Finally, "Well Weathered Man" begins with a vocals only lullaby. A guitar strums, and a country & western folk song takes form.

Overall, the album is solid. It suffers from too much irrelevant production, as was popular in the alternative music market. Although I am not a fan of country music, this album would have been better produced as such. There are many pop elements, and some nicely organized rock songs, but the tendencies in her voice and the instrumentation leads me to believe that they wanted to be accepted in a fuzz and noise market, while clinging to country desires. Alt-Country has a more defined style than this has, but it is probably the closest box I can fit them into.

Stand-Out Track:Mind Letting Go

Links:
Carnival Strippers - allmusic
Carnival Strippers - trouser press
Shifting Sands video

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