Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Blue Rabbit – Separate

“Modern Baroque pop that falls on the Bjork side of Arcade Fire,”says their press kit. Not exactly. This strikingly smart, tuneful, harmony-driven, female-fronted San Francisco band isn’t particularly quirky or the least bit precious. Nor are they a tenth-rate Echo & the Bunnymen ripoff. Rather, Blue Rabbit come across as something akin to the long-lost  mystery sister of Feist and Rasputina, with a catchy pop sensibility that’s remarkably schlock-free. Although a devious programmer at Clear Channel (could such a person actually exist?) could slip some of the songs on this cd into the mix without alienating all the ten-year olds waiting for that Miley Cyrus song that pops up every 40 minutes.

 

Blue Rabbit love minor keys and intricate, imaginative vocal arrangements, sometimes using counterpoint and two sets of lyrics. The cd is a diverse mix of upbeat fare and slower, darker material. It kicks off with the defiantly funny, new wave-inflected Sleep, haunting organ in the background against the cello and a pounding drum roll evocative of the Joy Division classic Atrocity Exhibition. “I’m so tired tired tired/I’d like to sleep sleep sleep.” Then they bring it down with a trip-hop beat on Getting Away, a pop song with a twist, leaping into doublespeed on the chorus with a minor-key ragtime feel. The title track is a somewhat bitter but catchy dance tune with incisive piano:

 

Lift the rat trap, free the mouse…

Take your lips from the back of my hand

And end separate as we began

 

Another minor-key tune, Missing Piece begins in 6/8 time with sparse cello accents, climbing to a fingersnapping cabaret chorus. The song builds methodically and inescapably to a beautiful crescendo with lush harmonies and orchestration. Other standout tracks include the bouncy, snide Stupid Flag (“Raise the stupid flag, raise it high, wave it wide with all you have), and the gorgeous Love Secret, another big 6/8 ballad to close the album. Beginning with dark, rustic cello over plaintive broken chords on the guitar, it morphs at warp speed into a classic 60s style pop song on the chorus. What might be most impressive is that Blue Rabbit delivers live, too, those beautiful voices soaring over the darkness and drama. This band could appeal to just about anybody, from the American Idol crowd to those with vastly more purist or cynical taste. Blue Rabbit are at the Canadian Music Fest in Toronto sometimes in the March 12-14 window; Bay Area fans can catch them at Cafe Du Nord, 2170 Market Street between Church and Sanchez in San Francisco on March 21.

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February 10, 2009 - Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , ,

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