Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Presses stopped: Bullette
(We'll get back to Dyan Diamond tomorrow.)
There's not a track on the new album The Secrets by Bullette that couldn't be improved by lopping off a minute (if not more) and that's the only negative I can think of, so why not make it the lead.
In all other respects, the most original and intriguing album of 2005 is likely to be this out-of-nowhere mp3 download. Not sure if my recent post on her pal Rob Montejo's old band Smashing Orange created a psychic pull or if it was just a coincidence. I woke up at 2:00am on Monday night and reflexively checked gmail. Found a message sent at 11:00pm earlier that night that was just "off" enough to pique my interest (the photo, in which Ms. Bullette looks not unlike someone who might have hung around with Lisa Carver back in the day probably didn't hurt), clicked a link, and gave a quick listen to two mp3s. I'm not the sort to download a full album and give it three consecutive listens at 2:30am on a weeknight, but that's exactly what happened next.
Influences are listed, and include Nancy Sinatra (very apparent in the vocals, plus there's clearly some Lee Hazlewood in the songwriting), Marc Bolan, Alex Chilton, Loretta Lynn, etc. It's tempting to think of her as an outsider artist, especially after listening to some of the synth pieces that come at the end of the album (one of which is a Rob Montejo production), but her blog makes it clear that she's smarter than your average cookie, and very aware of what's going on in past and current music. Call her an insider/outsider artist, but there's nobody (to my knowledge) making albums quite like this in 2005, full of dropped beats, stream-of-consciousness melodies, un-selfconscious lyrics, and ultra-creative-on-a-shoestring-budget arrangements. I catch the occasional similarity to Linda Smith (another generally solo female artist, who has a number of shared influences) but that's about as close as I can come, and it only applies to a few tracks. Overall feel is more like this should be a forgotten cult album from fifteen years ago, 'cept it's brand new.
I checked out her old band Nero's mp3s (the video makes for interesting watching) but nothing they did is preparation for her solo stuff.
As mentioned, the whole album is available for free at her website, but for the lazy:
We Are Not From Sugar, possibly the most accessible track. Not entirely unlike Stereolab, and will leave you unprepared for...
Lemonade. It's not as easy to dodge a beat as the guitar part on this makes it seem. This one, in turn, sounds nothing like...
Don't Start Believin'. If you think you know exactly where this one is going after the first two verses, you're either psychic or mistaken. Very Nancy and Lee, up to the point where it hits the bridge.
I could go on. The weirdness of this album generally isn't the dramatic, in your face kind (e.g. screaming, yelling, overtly clever lyrics, production overload). It has more to do with an artist (sort of a la Daniel Johnston, but without the amateurness, creepiness, etc.) pushing normal song structures slightly around the bend. Lyrics are also posted, and are worth paying attention to. If she hooks up with the right producer, her next album could be an out-and-out classic, no apologies needed.