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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Happy Family - Lucky

Name: Happy Family
Album: Lucky
Year: 1990
Style: Proto-Alternative
Similar Bands: Sonic Youth, Half Japanese, L7 (lite), King Missile, Pylon
"One-Word" Review: Juvinilly-friendly-lo-fi-noise-pop-punk
Based Out Of: Austin, TX
Label: Dutch East India Trading, 50,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 WATTS Records, Inc.
Lucky - Front & back insert & back
Lucky - Liner Notes & CD

Lucky (1990)
  1. Cavemen in Neckties 3:03
  2. We Love You We Don't Love You 2:00
  3. Listen 2:32
  4. Lucky 3:55
  5. Nothing to Do With Anything At All 4:09
  6. Big Ass on Fire 4:04
  7. 8 Good Reasons 2:28
  8. She's Your Trashcan 3:06
  9. Everyday 2:07
  10. World Of Distraction 3:59
  11. Wear Your Clothes1:51
  12. Bodies Lie 3:30
  13. Where's My Tribe 3:48
Album Rating (1-10): 7.5

Members & Other Bands:
Cindy Widner - Vox, Cover Design (Flinchtones)
Laura Creedle - Guitars, Vox (Flinchtones)
Rich Malley - Drums Vox (Scratch Aid)
Julia Austin - Bass, Vox, Clarinet, Tinwhistle, Cover Design, Art (Chlorine, Wild Seeds, Kamikaze Refrigerators)
Spot - Guitar, Producer, Engineer, Denmother
Lynell Malley - Cover Design, Art
Ellen Gibbs - Drawing
R.U. Steinberg - Photography

Unknown-ness: I seem to remember buying this cd out of a cheap CD bin at a chain store like Tower Records somewhere, sometime before college like 10+ years ago. But I don’t remember where or for how much. I remember trying to listen to it when I was in college, but did not like it too much. But maybe I never gave it a chance. I bought it because I liked the imagery, the Spanish flash cards with block coloring were a neat touch, and they kinda look like tarot cards. I also might have picked up the cd because it is on the same label Half Japanese used for a few records. The cd printing looks very homemade/generic, but that could also be the limited quality indie labels were able to make back in 1990.

Album Review: “Cavemen in Neckties” starts out with lo-fi drums and heavy guitars and monotone girl-punk chanting. The chorus consists of shouting female vocals. It falls somewhere between post-punk Delta 5 & a lighter L7 or Bikini Kill. The vocals are not really singing, as in sing-talking. But the lyrics are silly, like something I’d expect from a Half Japanese or Dead Milkman song. “We Love You We Don’t Love You” picks up the pace, with Devo like chord changes, but without synthesizers. The vocals are not sung in any kind of key, similar to Kim Gordon’s style, without as much guttural snarling. The final note of you is held onto for an unnecessarily long time. “Listen” gives off a snarky, cocky girl personality with the vocal style and tempo of the music. It actually reminds me a lot of the song that the fake band at the end of “Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge” plays. I can see why I did not like the record in college; I never gave the style the time of day. But I like and appreciate it more now, and although the record is not great, it is more tolerable than I thought previously. “Lucky” is a quiet shoegazing, meandering song featuring somewhat of a drum march beat. It is like the bed time lullaby that Belly could pull off. A random drum beat and chaotically unbalanced heavy buzzing guitars introduce “Nothing to Do with Anything At All” but then some cohesiveness takes place and the song begins to rock. The off-key female Blondie vocals we’ve become used to start, but they are supplemented with energetically loud Braniac-Style guy vocals. You can just feel the beginning of Alternative music style ooze out all over the place here. “Big Ass on Fire” begins with a funky, catchy, jittery guitar beat, and the monotone female vocals compliment the music by not taking any distraction away from it. The chorus is a little juvenile, but it is nothing unexpected from the album’s content thus far. The vocals sound tired and half-heartedly performed. Although that I might just be what the song demands, and what they wanted. If the song was not so long, and had just one more interesting section, it would be the best track thus far.

“8 Good Reasons” starts with a rockin, drivin drum beat, and a great female vocal, which reminds me of an audible Mika Miko. It is a solid punk song without the inhibiting angry punk energy. “She's Your Trashcan” has a mellowed deeper female vocal that actually is singing, in a PJ Harvey way. The song is somewhat boring, even if the chorus is nicely repetitive and has a basic-yet-catchy hook. “Everyday” has shredding guitars in the start, and the vocals are similar to “Listen,” with smarter-than-you personality inspiring vocals. It is not a fast paced song, but it is begrudgingly plodding. “World Of Distraction” is like King Missile in its minimal music and story time vocals. The vocals maybe a bit like the Pretenders, too. The tempo is similar to Aimee Mann’s “Your With Stupid Now.” And the song ends with a latter day XTC like guitar and bass instrumental section. “Wear Your Clothes” is nonchalantly sung over a catchy pop-punk hook. This one is a shame that it is so short, and only uses the big hook once in its under two minute length. “Bodies Lie” comes to a slow whirling start with echoey metallic noises. And the song stumbles along thanks to an extraordinarily slow drum beat. And my CD has decided to stop playing after freezing up a few times during the song. But I did not sense it going anywhere too different than what I got from the first minute and a half. I was able to jump ahead, and realized that it really did not go anywhere too different from the first half. It is a constantly building song, that feels like it might get somewhere, but never does. “Where's My Tribe” ends the record with a dancy tambourine beat and light picked guitar work. A building bouncy bass is added too, and the song sounds a bit like Pylon. Supporting female and male vocals are added in the chorus, and the song continues to build in energy in its instrumentation. Other effects, like a recorder, are added, and its complexity is on par with some of the more intricate Violent Femmes songs. Over all, not that intricate, but each element blends its own unique sound, yet you can listen to each thing individually.

Stand Out Track: 8 Good Reasons

Cindy as Author for Austin Chronicle
Hole In The Wall Review 2/22/1991
Amazon + reviews

1 comment:

  1. I also found this album in a thrift store before college, for something amazing like 10 cents. It is still one of my favorites!