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Monday, April 6, 2009

(the) Heart Throbs - Cleopatra Grip

Name: (the) Heart Throbs
Album: Cleopatra Grip
Year: 1990
Style: Gothic Shoegazing Pop
Similar Bands: Darling Buds, Shakespear Sister, Luna, Belly, Gene Loves Jezebel
"One-Word" Review: dark-cavern-vampyro-rock
Based Out Of: Liverpool, UK
Label: Elektra, One Little Indian,
Cleopatra Grip - Cover, Notes, Tape

Cleopatra Grip (1990)
  1. Tossed Away 3:55
  2. Dreamtime 3:54
  3. Big Commotion 5:04
  4. In Vain 4:30
  5. Slip & Slide 3:19
  6. Here I Hide 4:32 /
  7. Calavera 6:01
  8. I Wonder Why 3:31
  9. She's In A Trance 3:44
  10. Blood From A Stone 3:25
  11. Kiss Me When I'm Starving 4:34
  12. White Laughter 5:14
Album Rating (1-10): 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Rose Carlotti - Vox, Guitar (Angora, Tom Patrol)
Rachael Carlotti - Bass, Vox
Stephen Ward - Keyboards
Alan (Borgia) Barclay - Guitar
Mark Side - Drums
Martin Hannett - Mix
Gil Norton - Producer, Mix
Frank De Freitas - Producer
Rob Stennett - Producer, Engineer
Derek Birkett - Producer
Chris Allison - Producer
Bill Price - Mix
Dave Meegan - Mix
Mark Wallace - Mix
Chris Sheldon - Engineer
Brian Pugsly - Engineer
Me Company - Design

Unknown-ness: I have never heard of this band. But I liked the font and imagery on the cover of the tape when I saw it at a thrift store. With the color and picture, it reminded me of the 4-AD albums like Luna and Breeders, but a little more girly and gothic, like Siouxsie Sioux and Shakespear Sister. So the music I was thinking would be similar to Gene loves Jezebel, or something very noisy, yet melodic shoe gazing goth-pop. But this is really only based on the artwork, so I could be way off. But I am excited to try it.
Album Review: Track one is “Tossed Away” and it comes full-on with thick dense guitars and sexy, mysterious talk-singing dialoged overtop the synth keys and echoing drums. The chorus comes with a very catchy melodic vocal hook that validates, with singing, the spoken verse. A quiet alarm like synth intro begins “Dreamtime” before the guitars come in. The deep spoken word vocals are supplemented with the title sung in the background. Again the chorus is the sung-hook, leaving the verse as a meditative anticipation. Buzzing and stinging synth sounds enter and fade as the grinding guitar and driving drums come into play on “Big Commotion.” The double layered, harmonized vocals sound a bit like pulp in the “can’t dance without the motion” chorus hook. The rest of the song sounds like Shakespeare’s Sister with fuzz guitars. It takes a lengthy time to finally end, a bit too much pulling taffy. But it ends in a fade, and “In Vain” starts with mysterious swirling keys and effects and a wispy all-knowing female vocal. This is quieter than the rest of the album, and features far less production. The two female singers again play off each other like Shakespeare’s Sister with less range. The guitars make the song kinda sound like the Scorpion’s “Wind Of Change.” The ending builds up taking the hooks and layering them over top of each other, building in energy that just relaxes at the end. “Slip & Slide” is a bit taste of goth-pop. The beat is dancy and upbeat, and the female vocals take turns in the verse, showcasing both vocalists very well. The come together and harmonize in parts as well. There is even a revised chorus hook that adds more depth to the song that takes over as the song rushes to its end. This sounds like a good British pop songs produced through a nest of hornets. “Here I Hide” is a straightforward rock song, with a standard drum beat, guitar work with slight fuzz, and minimal use of the electro-keyboard. Near the end, the lyrics pick up and function as a steady rhythm section. It ends with do-loo-loo’s running up and down the melody.

“Calavera” consists of three parts at the onset, first is the tired, staggering drum beat, second are the monotone sung vocals and the fuzzy & repetitive lead guitar. The song is really a one-trick pony, never advancing further than the dark, stumbling, slow head nodding beat. And when you thing the song should be slowing down to end, it just goes on and on for another 2.5 minutes with another verse to boot. The next song, “I Wonder Why” starts off right away with a catchy guitar hook and a decent vocal melody. This is good planning after the last song’s long drawn out ending. It is just as dark as the rest of the record, but the vocals are much more refine and stand out on their own. It is a little repetitive, but over all a descent song. “She's In A Trance” rocks out with a solid jangley repetitive guitar hook wrapped up in the normal fuzz-production and complimented with echoey goth-vox. The chorus/song title comes across like a quiet whisper from a floating phantom, seeming to be in a trance itself. Again, it is a little long, and drawn out at the end. “Blood From A Stone” has the same jangely guitar but the bass is pushed way up in the front of production. It is an upbeat and poppy song, but the synthesizer draws it down into darkness along with the echo effect on the vocals making the song sound hollow and floating. “Kiss Me When I'm Starving” is a ballad, with a soaring electric metal guitar and an arena rock drum beat. There is a pleasant keyboard underneath the otherwise dreamy, fantasy atmosphere. Finally, after a long fade out, “White Laughter” finishes the album. More echoey effects, this time on chimes and a haunting synthesized “held-note” start the song, along with an acoustic guitar. Simple vocal lines are sung, and the song kinda sounds like something from Mazzy Star. It is quiet and pleasant, as it slowly builds with slightly emotional lyrics harmonized. It is somewhat Celtic in its windy and folksy production. It takes a bit of time to end with more haunting and surreal crystal summonings and chimey vibes to complete the atmosphere.

Stand Out Track: Slip & Slide

Links:
Allmusic
Wikipedia
Yinpop Fansite
Myspace
Unofficial Site
Last FM
Photozen gallery live 1993
NY Times article 1990

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