One of my best friends (from back east who lived in Portland, OR for a brief spell before moving to NYC) would always preach the gospel of Sleater-Kinney to me while we were still in our formative years (not old & jaded yet). In fact, I even accompanied him to several concerts so that he could stand transfixed for 90 minutes while I tried to think of things to worry about. The truth of the matter is that while I liked Sleater-Kinney, I worshipped at the altar of the harder edged Heavens to Betsy (Sleater-Kinney lead singers 1st band). The pure aggression coming from a female perspective really made an impact with me. No Riot Grrrl band that I read about or bought music by ever matched the way I felt when I 1st listened to Heavens to Betsy. No one, that is, until I heard The Pale Faces (about 20 years after 1st hearing Heavens to Betsy).
The Pale Faces are a part of Leicester’s Goodtime Collective – a family of musicians, film makers and visual artists, who’s ethos includes a focus on live, lo-fi recording, a shunning of the record industry, and prolific, independent releasing. The band consists of Janice Raw on vocals and drums, Dannielle Jeffery on keys & Vocals, and Garry Greenaway on bass & drums. The band can play aggressive lo-fi punk music with the best of them, but also stretches out on a few tracks. There is always melody lurking beneath the surface which should allow the band to reach a wider audience. The album is very strong and comes hot on the heels of their early 2013 release, Gee Baby, I’m Mighty Blue For You.
no matter what i try to do you always criticize…(album highlights)
O Mummy O Daddy sounds like primitive rock ‘n’ roll created in someone’s bedroom, which I suppose may not be too far off the mark. Pure aggression gives way to a girl group type chorus. Key lyrics “I can never please you / no you’re never satisfied / no matter what i try to do / you always criticize”.
Sweet & Sour Sixteen has an introduction that made me double-check my player to make sure I hadn’t slipped on my 60’s girl group box set, One Kiss Can Lead To Another. It quickly segues from the spoken word introduction into a noise laden romp about the holy grail of teenage birthdays. The whole thing is barely over 90 seconds, but it works in stunning fashion.
Black Swan might be the noisiest track on the album and fittingly concludes the record. White noise assault to begin the track before it all fades out and we are left with megaphone sung vocals over top of a steady bass strum. It all leads back to guttural screaming & grunting over top of primitive sounding backing. Make no mistake – The Pale Faces have saved some of their best tricks for last.
I’ve given you three tracks that I really dug, but the whole thing is worth your time and attention. The album works as a cohesive statement, but the tracks also make an impact when listened to individually. I wholeheartedly urge you to support the band by buying this record and checking out their links:
For Fans of: Heavens to Betsy, Wild Flag, Hole, Liliput, The Raincoats, The Slits
- Girl From the Past
- O Mummy O Daddy
- Eat You Alive
- No Kisses Blues
- Sweet & Sour Sixteen
- A Thing Called Man
- Soul Connection
- Dark Lips
- Black Swan