Monday, October 11, 2010

Agent Ribbons - Chateau Crone (Album Review)

The colorful ladies in the eccentric trio Agent Ribbons are finally ready to unleash their sophomore album, Chateau Crone, into the world. Making far more of an impressively sprawling musical landscape than three musicians should be able to create, Agent Ribbons float in and out of many moods and genres without ever stumbling or repeating themselves. Imagine mixing together an off beat theater troupe, a pawn shop full of unique instruments and a bunch of 45s from some of the best girl groups of the 60’s and you’ll be somewhat in the right head space to fully appreciate what Agent Ribbons has cooked up. Catchy opening track “I’m Alright” will immediately capture you and promises to be stuck in your head for days. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself wanting to settle for a full album of songs just like it. But Agent Ribbons has more ambitious plans. Track after track shows the varied tastes and talents of the band while still being able to maintain unifying threads, especially in the shared vocals. But if by chance you do come across a song you can’t get into, there’s no need to worry. They don’t rehash any musical elements and each song is inventive and different enough from the next to guarantee you’ll find something to truly enjoy.

For the most part, garage pop guitars and sugary, reverbed vocals are staples throughout Chateau Crone’s 10 songs. Clearly there was much care and attention put into how the exceptional voices in Agent Ribbons were recorded and mixed together because the results are stunning. “I’m Alright,” “Grey Gardens,” “I Was Born To Sing Sad Songs” and “Oh, La La!” are all driven by retro-toned electric guitars, gently urging drums and gorgeous vocal effects. But don’t get too comfortable. They showcase some tasty accordion for the Parisian cafĂ© waltz of “I’ll Let You Be My Baby,” a ukulele shows up on “Your Hands, My Hands,” and “Wallpaper Of Skin” opens with a chiming grandfather clock that gives way to a stabbing violin. They are no slouches when it comes to lyrics as well. Lines like "I'd rather be going nowhere, knowing that that's where I was going, than to be always headed somewhere unbeknownst to me" and "Please don't give me everything I want, I want to want some things" show their intelligence, wit and clever wordplay skills. So far, my favorite track is probably the unsettled pulsing of “Wood, Lead, Rubber.” Combining a killer drum pattern, sassy Debbie Harry style vocals, a wailing violin and frantic tempo changes, this track is unpredictable, dangerous and ridiculously fun to listen to, just like Agent Ribbons themselves.

Chateau Crone will be available October 12th from Antenna Farm Records.

"Wood, Lead, Rubber" - Agent Ribbons (Chateau Crone)

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