Thursday, September 11, 2008

Kitten Forever - "Born Ready"; Unicorn Basement - "We Are The Mages of Beauty"



Kitten Forever
Born Ready (Tardigrade Records, 2008)
Grade: A-

Unicorn Basement
We Are The Mages of Beauty (UF Records, 2008)
Grade: A-*

It's awfully fitting that, while tonight's show is the CD Release party is for the new Unicorn Basement record, Kitten Forever and Gospel Gossip share the bill as well. It's an apt for the first because, like We Are The Mages of Beauty, Kitten Forever's recently released Born Ready, is short on song length, but long on endearing blasts of psychotic energy and motivation to make the listener dance, dance, dance. Of course, these two bands sound nothing alike. UB is clearly in the synth-punk camp, while Kitten Forever is clearly more in camp rock, albeit with uncommon instrumentation (bass, drums, vocals). In a strange way, Kitten Forever are The Doors of feminist-minded sass-punk.

And make no mistake about it, there is a lot of sass on Born Ready. Tracks like "Fat Crush" and "Warpath" burst with vitality, spunk, and attitude, like the best anti-establishment music. But Born Ready isn't any sort of screed, even though the politics on this record are clearly sympathetic with feminism. (Indeed, singer Liz even mentions her leanings on "Blood Sugar" one of Born Ready barely-minute-long highlights). But lest you think that Kitten Forever are humorless scolds...actually, there's no way anyone could think that this band is nothing but hilarious and irreverent, as the 13 tracks on Born Ready manage to blow by the listener in one fun, wholly entertaining swoop. There are screams here, to be sure, but it's in the sense that screaming your head off is the best ailment for all of your problems, and the lo-fi, dirty, dingy bass lines paired with an insistent crashing of the cymbols makes for a brief, fantastic listen. If Baby Guts, bassist Laura Larson's other group, is the super-ego of punk and feminism, Kitten Forever is undoubtedly its id. And if you doubt that feminism could have an id in the first place, have I got a surprise for you.

Now, let's turn our attention to why its apt that Gospel Gossip are playing tonight. Remember when I wrote about how the word people kept using in tandem with GG was surprise? Prepare for a similar reaction for We Are The Mages of Beauty. There shouldn't be too much information given away, because of the conflict of interest. With that said, tracks like the melodic, but still esoteric, Oingo Boingo-esque pop of "Oh God", the harsh synth glow of "Psionic Airwaves", and the nonsensical profundity of "This Life" show that, for a group with the potentiality to drown in novelty, UB have a surprisingly sophisticated sense of songcraft. Like Kitten Forever, the songs are short on length, but long on ideas, and even. Some of the direct quotations of notable tracks (look for references to "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" or "Fuck The Pain Away") are questionable, but there's always something here for the listener to latch on to, Even when the lyrics are incomprehensible. Like Kitten Forever latest, these songs undoubtedly transmit both a fundamental discontent with society at large and the willingness to celebrate the fact that you can carry on.

You can celebrate both of these bands (as well as Gospel Gossip and MC/VL) at a CD Release Party tonight"



Unicorn Basement MySpace Page
Kitten Forever MySpace Page
Gospel Gossip MySpace Page
MC/VL MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

*in the interest of full disclosure, Max and Deanna are good friends of the writer. However, this writer believes objectively that this record should merit a great deal of discussion. Hopefully, you, the reader, will agree as well

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