Kate Pierson - Guitars and Microphones
Nothing like a little controversy to kick off album sales. Personally I love Kate Pierson and her unflappable upbeat attitude. At least her public persona is of a person that chooses to see what is good in life and tries her best to elevate those around her. She doesn't appear to take the downturns in life too seriously but rather focuses on how we can turn these things around, see them in perspective, and move on to the next better thing as quickly as possible. I think if she were my friend she would generally recommend a night of dancing as a remedy to most of life complexities... and I think she would be right. This record fits perfectly in line with that perception.
I am always filled with happy anticipation for new B-52's related material. I can always use a blast of sunshine and a punch of good humor. The timing for this album seemed perfect for helping me out of the end of winter slump when I am tired of the cold and am not wanting to deal with snow and each day feels like a endurance test of perseverance.
I must vent a little personal frustration at my own ignorance. I bought a download of the album expecting the physical media wouldn't be much, as most B-52's records aren't. However, a friend of mine did buy the compact disc and I was rather annoyed with how nice it is. It has a nice book with shiny glossy photos and lyrics and isn't in a lame plastic case but rather a nice "digipak" (I think that is the right term).
Overall I thought this record showcases Kate's voice amazingly well. I was a bit afraid that after being part of a group for so long she might falter a bit on her own. I need not have worried, she doesn't misstep, she flies. Listening to her vocals throughout the record is much like riding a great rollercoaster blindfolded; never knowing exactly when the dips and turns are coming, expecting one thing to happen and being pulled in another direction altogether. By the time the record is over you want to get in line and ride it again.!
The music that should be propelling her on her way though is a bit weak. She easily soars above it and outperforms it at every turn. A really good vocalist like her needs more of a catalyst and sometimes a competition with the music. There really wasn't much of interest going on in the guitars, drums and keyboards. They were adequate but unchallenging. I wouldn't call it disappointing, but I do think it keeps the record from being everything it could have been. The creative energy of the album is very much retained in the lyrics and the vocals.
Track by track:
01. Throw Down the Roses
Starting the album off with a charge, I was chanting and throwing my hands up within seconds buying into this song of personal freedom and self-worth. This song throws off any fears that this record might sound dated in style coming from someone who has been in the business so long.
02. Mister Sister
I find the criticisms of this song to be tragically misplaced. Isn't it kind of like a soldier attaching his own side of a fight because they aren't in the right uniform rather than recognising him as on your side and having his back? I believe this song holds it's own for exactly why it was written - to elevate persons feelings of acceptance for who they are.
03. Guitars and Microphones
Vocally stimulating and one of the most interesting songs on the record for me. I had to get up and dance to this one. I love the visual imagery she paints "Split like an apple thrown against the wall" - she finds her own means of expression rather than the use of cliches.
04. Crush Me With Your Love
I think this song is rich in strength and demonstrates Kate has not been without her own feelings of despair and futility. She chooses however to embrace the moment and take it for what it is and fulfill whatever potential there is to be had.
05. Bottoms Up
Fun and remonstrative. Be nice to your friends.
06. Bring Your Arms
Pretty. Makes me want to hold hands and sway.
Great song! So many good possible quotes, for example: "You're a raindrop drifting South towards a child's mouth" I think Kate is a person who if she fell off a cliff towards imminent death she would shrug and enjoy the ride down and hit with a smile on her face knowing she has drained the last drop of joy possible from every moment of her life.
09. Time Wave Zero
I hope when the end comes I have someone like Kate at my side making it a party rather than a funeral.
10. Pulls You Under
Poignant and compelling. Almost a lullaby, a song of comfort and promise. Surrender to the experience and know you are not alone.
I hope this is not the only solo effort by Kate. My interest is peeked at what her next album could contain. I need more of her realistic but positive outlook on life. I may listen to more gloom and darkness, I may walk the night more than the light, but I still need records like this to shake the cold, dust off the cobwebs, and raise my eyes to the sun.