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Friday, January 27, 2017

Threshold - s/t

Name: Threshold
Album: s/t
Year: 1982
Style: New Wave
Similar Bands: Sue Saad, 1994, Pat Benatar, Blondie
One Word Review: Space Cop Drama
Based Out Of: LA, CA
Label: Penthouse Records
 Threshold - Cover, Record
Threshold - Back, Record
Threshold (1982)
  1. Don't Burn Our Bridges 3:34
  2. Night Flyer 3:35
  3. 2000 Light Years 3:50
  4. New Friend 3:05
  5. American Dream 2:54/
  6. Love Somebody 3:19
  7. My Heart Can't Take It 2:40
  8. One of These Days 3:10
  9. Shelter 3:00
  10. Believe In Me 3:47
  11. Still Know How To Rock And Roll 3:00
Album Rating (1-10): 6.5

Members & Other Bands:
Tonina R. Biggs Andrews - Vox, Producer, Cover Design
Jeff Craig - Guitar (Caligula soundtrack)
Jim Jensen - Bass
Jim Horn - Sax (Duane Eddy, George's Band, Dynamite Horn Section, Kip Tyler & The Flips, The Ceyleib People, The Rebels, The Shelter People)
Doug Meador - Keys (Caligula soundtrack)
Steve Gardner - Drums
Palle Jensen - Cover Art
Richard Reese - Photography
Michael Farr - Photography
Jack Andrews - Engineer
Bob "Inky" Incorvaia - Engineer

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band. But from the image of outerspace, and an eye that looks  like the trapped villains in Superman 2, i'd imagine it is going to try and explore futuristic and space sounds. The image on the back of a make-up clad woman behind a large sequencer adds to the electronic possibility of the album. Although the imagery reminds me of a previous album I reviewed, Beaver Teeth, which was more southern-bluesy rock. Also of interest, the label appears to be Penthouse, like the magazine?

Album Review: Not much exists out there on the internets regarding this album and Tonina Biggs Andrews. She is the daughter of Penthouse founder Bob Guccione, and her two last names came from her two marriages to two different music engineers. She worked as producer as well as lead singer for this album and president of Penthouse Records as well. She still works in music to some degree, with her LA based company Tonina Music.

“Don't Burn Our Bridges” begins with a complimentary drum and bass groove, followed by a layer of chugging guitar. The vocals are trying to be strong and aggressive, and sound similar to a Pat Benatar song. The chorus is a little slinky with a sly swagger. It is really just two solid sections strung together in repetition. Not outstanding or noteworthy, but strong.
“Night Flyer” was a single. It starts with a jangly guitar, reminiscent of Edgar Winter Group, with overlays of disco synth. The vocals are a little theatrical, not quite straightforward singing. By the time it hits the chorus, it is obvious that it is emulating the dead disco scene.
“2000 Light Years” is a Rolling Stones cover. It quietly begins with electronic knob twitters, and a mystical, psych moog melody. Her voice is soft, and sensual. The guitars remind me of Of Montreal. It delicately builds but in no discernable direction or with any goal. It is comfortable in its mid-propulsion state. The instrumental break down is brief, but feels like it is about to realign and go off in a new direction before the verse pulls it back in.
“New Friend” pulses in the beginning with a quick metronome bass beat. Power-pop guitars begin, creating a nervous, but bold, building verse. The chorus does not capitalize on the building; rather, it takes an anesthetized, monotone trajectory. After two cycles, an instrumental section hints at energy, using a sax as a guide.
“American Dream” begins like Eye of the Tiger; a potentially motivational, diving march thanks to the bass and drum tempo and punchy guitar chords. The vocals are a little gruff and aggressive. It ends with a cathartic “Yeah.”

“Love Somebody” was also released as a single. There is a bluesy guitar hook to begin the song. The song breaks time signature as it moves from driving verse, to a slowed up bridge, into a faster, disco-ish chorus. The instrumental section begins with a rolling synth and then prog-like guitar wailing.
“My Heart Can't Take It” was the B-Side to “Night Flyer.” It begins with a driving drum, and adds swirling synth and upbeat techno melody. It builds nicely, with a sturdy balance of singing and emotion. The tempo change and breakdown after the chorus and before the instrumental break is a nice adaption of the ground laid melody, and it transitions well back into the familiar melodic territory. It ends very abruptly; jarringly so.
“One of These Days” is a bluesy, sax heavy, back-alley / late night cop drama track. The song tries to maintain its head above water, with the vocal melody not quite matching up with a stripped down guitar-bass verse: It’s jazz that way. The song never quite finds a grip and just seems to exist without any contribution to the album.
“Shelter” sounds a little like the Pretenders with an upbeat guitars melody. It is a fun, with a surf/steel drum guitar sound, and a driving song. Unfortunately her vocals fall incredibly flat in the verse, feeling uninspired and detached from the musical emotion. The chorus on the other hand, with a layered and harmonized backing vocal feels much more inspired, and offers penance for the rest. The second verse finds added incentive, but the song could be great with a stronger set of vocals. The song ends with a chorus shifted an octave up.
“Believe In Me” is a sunrising song, hopeful and optimistic, as its namesake suggests. The chorus is a ballad of crooning, mixed with some ELO synth. It is a slow dance song, almost a lighter-up, monster ballad. On occasion, at the start of her vocal lines, her voice will squeal, which I’m not sure is intended.
“Still Know How To Rock And Roll” is like a futuristic Joan Jett song, with waves of synth over top a confidently sung verse. The bridge owes a lot to classic, oldies structured pop music. They went all out on the moog/synth effects in the instrumental breakdown, showcasing it prominently. The song builds nicely, and delivers with a satisfying downward refrain of the title. And that musical accompaniment ends the song.

Stand Out Track: My Heart Can't Take It

NY Mag Showbiz Notes 1983

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