Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Spanking Charlene – Dismissed with a Kiss

This band sounds almost exactly like X! Except with better vocals. Spanking Charlene’s frontwoman Charlene McPherson sings with a powerful, accusatory wail: her voice can be very pretty, and it is on a couple of the quiet songs on the album. But most of the time it’s fierce and intense, and really packs a wallop. The songs are gritty and slightly Stonesy: this could be the great lost X album, sandwiched between Under the Big Black Sun and More Fun in the New World. Although McPherson’s songs are more intentionally amusing, and she doesn’t try to be deliberately poetic like Exene: her lyrics rhyme, often very cleverly. “Beauty is subjective/And I know your objective,” McPherson taunts the guy trying to pick her up, in the in-your-face punk smash Pussy Is Pussy.

The other songs are a mix of short, roaring guitar tunes along with a couple of surprisingly thoughtful, quiet numbers. I Hate Girls catalogs the innumerable ways women can make each other miserable with catty behavior; When I Get Skinny is a sarcastic swipe at the multibillion-dollar business of making women insecure about their looks. “When I’m skinny maybe I’ll finally get myself that record deal” and “drink red red wine with every meal…the girls I see on MTV shake their ass and don’t look like me,” McPherson laments, speaking for every normal woman perplexed by the popularity of anorexics with implants.

Guitarist Mo Goldner sings the potently gritty, percussive Fidgety – “My dog is on that Prozac too!” – slamming out a series of licks straight out of the early Billy Zoom catalog. Red Rolling Papers is McPherson’s not-so-nostalgic look back at the hungover residue of late-night high school partying. The brief, lickety-split When Things Were New evokes X’s Year One, from Wild Gift. The gentle, introspective Easy to Be Sad and Behind (as in, leaving it all behind) prove McPherson isn’t just a one-trick pony, giving her the chance to show off her subtle, country-inflected side. On the album, bassist Keith Christopher (of Yayhoos notoriety) also shows off his versatility, keeping everything impressively simple and direct. Drummer Phil Cimino (from the Demolition String Band) proves he can play this hard fast stuff just as well as the more complicated material he’s used to. Eric Ambel’s production is spot-on, as usual: everything is dirty right where it needs to. Unsurprisingly, Spanking Charlene’s New York home base is Lakeside, where they play this coming February 16 at 10 PM. We reviewed one of their shows there last year [third most popular review in the history of this blog – Ed.] and it was as excellent as you would expect after hearing this fun, fiery album. Four bagels. With safety pins stuck through them.

January 11, 2008 - Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. […] Lakeside, 11 PM. Very funny band with an exceptionally powerful lead singer and a really good album out as […]

    Pingback by NYC Live Music Calendar for Feb 2008 « Lucid Culture | February 14, 2008 | Reply

  2. One of the best bands yet! Great sound, real lyrics, unbelievable vocals and additude. They are the whole package, not to be missed.

    Comment by Eileen | March 16, 2008 | Reply

  3. The worst singing I have ever heard. The songs are horrible. It was a wast on my time listing to the songs.

    Comment by Elaine | January 17, 2012 | Reply

  4. you can’t be serious. Have you ever heard them live? The vocals are intense. I used to rehearse at the same studio as this band and you could hear Charlene through the wall! And IMO the songs are funny and they tell a good story.

    Comment by the boss here | January 18, 2012 | Reply


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