Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
Why You Runnin'
Review of Lissie’s Catching A Tiger
Valerie PhillipsWhen Why You Runnin’, the debut EP from Rock Island, Illinois native Elisabeth Maurus – aka Lissie – was released late last year, she was heralded as a bright new voice of the alt.country scene and indeed, her emotive voice and songwriting had the right balance of twang and rasp that she could well have become the next big crossover act for the genre. The problem with this was that in many ways, alt.country has become as rigid and codified a style as the Nashville scene that it was initially a reaction to in the late ’80s, and for an ambitious new artist, may not be a pigeonhole they want to get stuck in before they’ve even gotten their careers started.
That’s my speculation about why Lissie’s debut album Catching A Tiger is what it is, and that’s a big, genre-hopping record that pops and rocks as much as it twangs. It might have caught some off-guard, but really shouldn’t have – after all, its release was preceded by a series of viral videos that featured Lissie covering decidedly non-country acts like Lady Gaga, Kid Cudi and Metallica. There was definitely an aspect of calculated marketing to these selections, but that took a back seat to the fact that Lissie did a great job of making them her own, and that sentiment largely covers Catching A Tiger as well.
The production is pretty slick – overly so in parts – and the attempts to make songs in certain styles sound authentic, like the ’50s AM radio-filtered “Stranger”, try too hard, but Lissie’s voice and songwriting are strong and versatile enough to transcend any excess studio tinkering. She has a gift for inserting a big chorus where you’re not expecting a big chorus and thus making tracks like “Loosen The Knot” and “Cuckoo” indelible from the very first listen. Her folkier side isn’t neglected either, though it’s largely represented with the three tracks carried over from Why You Runnin’. Their placement alongside the more stylistically rangy selections of the record makes them more impactful, however, and by the time the gospelly “Oh Mississippi” closes things out, it’s clear that the decision to bust out of the pigeonhole before even being put in it was the right one – she’d have busted out of it sooner rather than later anyways.
The lead single from Nicole Atkins’ sophomore effort Mondo Amore is now available to download, widget-free. The record is out January 25.
Anyone who missed seeing S. Carey open up for The Tallest Man On Earth last month, take heart – he will be returning on his own tour, supported by White Hinterland, for a show at the Horseshoe on December 19. And honestly, I can’t think of a better bill to welcome Winter and close out (probably) the 2010 touring calendar – Carey’s All We Grow is a beaut.
Spinner talks to Chris Chu of The Morning Benders about their high-profile support slots this year. They headline their own show at the Mod Club on November 5 and some of footage of their/his ice cream-powered in-store/out-store show in August has been posted as a video session over at the newly-minted TapeDek.
CMJ reports that when Iron & Wine’s new record Kiss Yourself Clean comes out next January, it will be on a major label – they’ve signed to Warner Bros in North America. Their indie cred remains intact in the rest of the world, where they’ll be handled by 4AD.
Video: Warpaint – “Undertow”
Claudia Dehaza has left School Of Seven Bells for “personal reasons”. Ben Curtis and Alley Dehaza intend to carry on with the band, though without those sisterly harmonies it can’t help but be a wholly different beast.
With Jim Bryson acting as a touring member of The Weakerthans for some time now, it’s only fair that the Winnipeggers help out on the Ottawa-based artists’ next solo record, and so it is that the Weakerthans are functioning as Bryson’s backing band on his new record The Falcon Lake Incident. The record is due out next Tuesday, October 19, and they’re marking the occasion (sort-of/not really) halfway between their respective homes with some free shows – one on Tuesday night at the Horseshoe at 10PM and another by way of in-store at Sonic Boom on Wednesday at 6PM. And on top of that, John K Samson will play a solo set as part of the screening of their tour documentary We’re The Weakerthans, We’re From Winnipeg at the Royal on Monday night, October 18. If you need more Weakerthan action than that in a week, then I can’t help you. No one can.
And apparently their perfect sendoff at The Horseshoe in December 2007 wasn’t perfect enough – The Lowest Of The Low are getting back together for two gigs at Lee’s Palace on December 3 and 4. The occasion is the 20th anniversary of their beloved debut Shakespeare… My Butt which is getting a fancy-pants remastered reissue on November 23 and will include a DVD with a 45-minute documentary about the band entitled LowRoads 91-08. I waxed nostalgic about the record and what it meant to me in Summer 2007, but think I might let these shows pass me by. I’ve said thanks and goodbye already.