Wednesday, March 11, 2009

CD Review - The Ettes - Look At Life Again Soon

The Ettes
Look at Life Again Soon
Take Root Records

Sometimes, a band hits upon just the right alchemic mixture of the correct lineup, the right studio, a spot on engineer, and impeccable timing. When this happens, and all of the elements come together just right, the results can be explosive. The Ettes’ recent second album, Look at Life Again Soon, is one of these instances.

The Ettes, a trio of mono-monikered retro beat punkers, chose to record their new record at world “famous”, all analog, Toe Rag Studios, in England, with the truly legendary (if rather obscure) producer Liam Watson. Toe Rag has been the birthplace of a lengthy history of outstanding purist rock and roll recordings by the likes of The White Stripes, Eddie Angel (of Los Straitjackets), Billy Childish, Holly Golightly, and many others. And with Look at Life Again Soon, both Liam Watson and the Ettes have managed to carry on in that tradition with great aplomb.

Look at Life Again Soon is a platter full of stompers and raveups, fuzzed out bass, echo-y vocals, and plenty of grit and gumption. From the opening thrust of bass and drums of “I Get Mine”, all the way through closing track Particular highlights are “Pay Up” and “To Arms, “Two Shakes”, and the aforementioned “I Get Mine”. In each instance, singer Coco’s voice belies a woman who’s seductive yet sharp, as likely to switchblade you as she is to kiss you. The rhythm section is thundering and boomy, without stepping over the overdriven, yet understated guitar.

If there’s a criticism to be had, it is only that there is not a lot of breadth to be found across the album, and most of the songs are somewhat interchangeable with others. One notable exception is closing song “Where Your Loyalties Lie”, which has a more spacious sound, and sets a rather nicer departure mood. The end result is that the album is inherently a ballsy kick in the pants for a run of any four or five tracks, but after that, it becomes easy to want to spin something else just to change up the auditory recipe. However, the sound that this album is built upon is one that I’ve found extremely easy to keep coming back to.

The songs are spartan, yet uniformly convey a sense of impending violence bubbling just underneath the surface. In fact, this record would make the perfect soundtrack for a viewing of Death Proof, with the dialogue turned off. This song, and this band, is a chick habit to be relished, just don’t take your eyes off the nearest exit, because you never know where the next scooter gang riot’s going to erupt.

For those at all familiar with any previous Toe Rag work, feel free to compare this record to The Bristols, or any of Fabienne Delsol’s work, as there are a lot of similarities with The Ettes, particularly where vocals are concerned. All in all, Look at Life Again Soon makes a strong argument for a return of authenticity to rock and roll, and a trip back to days of teenage rebellion, late night transgressions, and morning regrets.

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