Date: Fri, 18 Nov 1994 02:57:57 -0800 From: bmilner <bmilner@NETCOM.COM> Subject: Review of Lisa Germano/Pale saints (long) Dear List,

Ok, it's time for another in my series of spontaneous and hastily written concert reviews. This time it was the 11/17/94 concert of the Pale saints w/ Lisa Germano with local acts Jessamine opening here in sunny tropical Seattle, Washington. As usual I will be very opinionated while attempting to remain fair (hardly...) which will make the review more fun (if not controversial) :)

Let me note first that I ran into two other 4ad-list members at the show who were really nice. They weren't even insane! You should venture out to meet up with your fellow list-folk.

Ok, where to begin, oh yes, the start of the show. JESSAMINE was actually fairly interesting. Everyone I was with heard different influences in their sound so I'll spit them all out in a run on sentence. Moody, Doors meets lush meets sonic youth meets early 80's synthy, feedback, pretty vocals song waifily (?) conterpointed by stronger male vocals song clumsily, no strong songs but good music if you were messed up on copious amounts of silly green stuff (which we were not).

Then came LISA GERMANO, a person whose concert reviews I have been steadfastily avoiding on this list so I wouldn't form a opinion before the show. I have never really heard I note she's played before tonight I believe. I vaguely remember some of y'all trashing her in another review. Well, guess what...I completely think you are wrong. She was by far the highlight of the night and perhaps one of the best shows I have seen in many months. First of all, she's a great songwriter, 2nd she's a GREAT singer recalling a more organic and believable Jane Siberry but more touching and real. 3rd, her band rocked, especially this amazing lead guitar player playing a Gretch duo-jet (my favorite guitar ever) with the most perfect washes of silky feedback and twang heard in some time. Lisa played at times harder rockin' stuff, at times sparse solo numbers, self-effacing lyrics, strong passionate lyrics, stream of conscioussness followed by well thought out simple lyrics. And, did I mention it rocked? I love it when slow pretty songs make you headbang with their intensity. thumbs up. I can't imagine the album would be nearly as good. I enjoyed the sloppiness and energy live. And, to top it all off...she was downright likeable as a person too on stage.

Next, the PALE SAINTS. First of all, why is it always someone's birthday in these bands from england? I don't believe it for a minute. When I saw the Sundays, it was someone's birthday. When I saw Duran Duran twice when I was 15, it was someone's birthday 2 times! When I saw another english band in town a few weeks ago, it was their birthday too. What gives? Are People in England born more often than us here in America?

And, what's with all the condescending comments like "your not making enough noise" and "you were simply smashing." When I was young, I though British accents were the sexiest things around regardless of what they were saying. The thing is you need only change the inflection marginally and it can sound contemptuously condescending.

Musically speaking, they were erratic. At times they hit stride and really rocked things up. Much heavier than on at least their first record. Mostly, the vocals were weak though unless she was belting a line. Most songs just slipped by in a wall of over-effected guitar wash to be forgotten seconds later. I really liked the songs on In-Ribbons with just her singing so I wasn't crushed by the departure of the male voice. In fact I really liked the harmonies with their innovative bassist (she wrote cool lines in other words). They did sound curiously like LUSH and the CRANBERRIES (3 of us thought so...) though.

The bassist did, as my freind pointed out, look an awful lot like Mary Poppins. And their main singer moves like complete nerd. It's like she had little neon foot diagrams on stage telling her when to dip and slide. Their lead guitar playing guy did put his all into his Jesus and Mary chain style two chord moshing and 3 note solos. It was funny to see so much posturing with so little actual guitar playing but he couldn't have been aloof or pretentious if he tried...he was too endearingly nerdy in a 13 year old way. He did play through a Marshall stack though with a procession of the most expensive guitars seen in years. Couple that with TWO roland multi-effects boxes and you have the makings of a truly piercing mess of guitar. In fact, he needed merely step on his pedal and eardrums in the first 7 rows seperated immediately and were hurled across the room at nearby bartenders. For those of you not familiar with standing right in front of a marshall, it sounds like a circular saw cutting cement and bone but louder than a 747. That's why bon jovi plays through 4 of them on stage. I regretted god giving me ears at times during those breaks.

Overall, for the Pale saints...I didn't buy it. Ok, if you could ignore the sheer fakeness of it all (did I mention it pisses me off when the guitar tech starts to tune guitars onstage seconds after the last chord dies in anticipation of a encore?) Did I mention how everything out of their mouths sounded like it had been planned two tours ago? These guys have tour buses and it shows... LISA GERMANO was great though and that more than made up for the price of admission. I'm curious about her record now (hmmm...)

Brandon Milner,
Date: Sat, 10 Dec 1994 12:18:24 -0500 From: Curve1@AOL.COM Subject: lisa germano's psychopath interview from delphine blue's program "shocking blue" on 99.5 FM WBAI, december 9 1994.

DB: on geek the girl you have the song psychopath - the song psycho path, with is about a woman who is stalked or harassed...?

LG: well the song is just about fear - total fear how like on the whole record it is about trying to find yourself, love yourself, and all this stuff, and it's like hard enough to do THAT anyway without then somebody putting their uncontrolled life on you, and then your life starts to suck, because they win b/c they like to scare you and they know they do. that's why i put it on, because it is just about intrusion and fear. But i have been bothered by this guy for a few years, he scares you so much, and when you call they cops and they like go "why don't you go to the front door and ask who it is" - and your sitting there, they really are sometimes very insensitive to the paranoia and you can't move - you are paralyzed. so i put the loop of the lady on who the guy actually is in her house and she is calling 911 and they are just kind of talking to her - i am sure they are coming, but they don't get there in time and she does get raped.

DB: so your saying that those are real 911 tapes?

LG: oh, the one on psychopath is a real 911 tape. some rape center in texas sent it to somebody to use in a documentary on violence and i heard it on that documentary and then they said i could use it.

DB: and so your saying that, oh god that is really awful, b/c the song is incredibly frightening - um, when the record first came out, i was on the air in the middle of the night and i just couldn't possibly play it.

LG: yeah, when i mixed it i couldn't sleep - at my house - the night that i mixed it - so i knew that i caught the feeling that i feel in the middle of the night. also, 'cause your a little blase about it, and when it happens every day, you got to bed (sarcastic sing-song voice) "oh, another night a baseball bat, a thing of maise (sp?), i won't sleep, i'll be paranoid out of my mind and paralyzed - great something to look forward to".

DB: but your saying that these tapes are of an actual call and that this woman was raped subsequently, even though we hear her on the phone.

LG: yeah, the phone disconnects at the end and she was then raped.

DB: wow. ok we are going to play psychopath now, but i warn you, you will probably be upset and frightened by this song, but - this is reality. (uncomfortable laughter)

Date: Wed, 28 Aug 1996 21:56:06 -0700 From: Jeff Keibel <redshift@INTERLOG.COM> Subject: Lisa Germano summary LISA GERMANO
LP: CAD6012

Released by 4AD on...
UK: Sept. 9
US: Sept. 10
CAN: Sept. 11

A new record from Lisa Germano. If you know Lisa Germano's work, you'll know to take Excerpts From A Love Circus home with you. It's not an album that's going to benefit from being listened to in an office -- competing with the phones and the faxes and the e-mails. As ever, Lisa whispers her secrets into your ear, and you wouldn't want to miss anything. (Well, you could skip to track seven and play 'Small Heads', the single, in the office; but you'll end up playing two-note air piano on your desk, and you may suffer ridicule from your peers.)

If you don't know Lisa Germano's work, then this is a good day. You've got a really fine record here -- and even better, there's three others for you to catch up on. Lisa mainly sings about dysfunctional relationships, and some of her songs get pretty grim, but somehow her records end up being funny and uplifting as well. Her voice is very breathy and gets right inside you, as does her violin playing. Her songwriting is simply extraordinary -- as intense, honest and personal as anyone writing today.

From her lyrics, you'd figure that she has a very low opinion of herself. Boy, is she wrong.

Previously on Lisa Germano...

Lisa made an album called On The Way Down From The Moon Palace. It was just some demos she recorded at home, but her friend Paul Mahern encouraged her to release it, and she did -- on her own Major Bill label. Why Major Bill? Because putting it out cost her a major bill. ("Ha, ha, ha," as Lisa would say.)

That got her a deal with Capitol, and she made another record called Happiness. This record is about missing out on something, or longing for something -- or some state -- that you don't have anymore... and it's about a dysfunctional relationship, and trying to work out whether, if everyone's shitting on you, you might have done something to deserve this treatment, and whether your view of yourself is closer to the truth than other people's view of you. Somewhere along the line, Lisa realises that if she wants to be happy, it's up to her.

Capitol released Happiness, but then 4AD boss Ivo Watts-Russell saw Lisa at a showcase and approached Capitol about licensing the album in the UK. It quickly became obvious that Lisa and Capitol weren't hitting it off, and Lisa moved across to 4AD. Happiness was remixed and re-sequenced; the cover version of 'These Boots Were Made For Walking' that Capitol had insisted on was dropped, and the album was re-released on 4AD.

The title track was named by Brian Eno as the song he listened to most in 1995 (in one of those end-of-year features in Q magazine.

Lisa talks about the new record...

"You guys get that catalogue, right?" asks Lisa Germano, referring to "Victoria's Secret" -- the sexy underwear-by-mail-order company, and now also the title of a Lisa Germano song. "It should be fun looking through it," says Lisa, "but when you're depressed and you think you're ugly and your boyfriend left you, you really don't need to have this shoved in your face -- full of beautiful breasts and slinky legs."

Lisa sang 'Victoria's Secret' at a benefit for a women's shelter. When she announced the song a heckler yelled out something so abusive that "I told him, if you're going to say that fucking stuff, get the fuck out of here, and the next day the press was all about, oh, she can't control her temper."

Yeah, right. Lisa's problem is she controls her temper too well. Witness "Message From Sophia": "I got home to someone and I walked into the house and there was this really sexy message from a French woman on the machine. And I thought, wow, I caught him. And I confronted him, and he denied it. I decided to just watch him. I just let it go. I wrote that song about it. Later I did get dumped."

This gets us nearly into Lisa's favourite area -- relationships that aren't working out, why the hell you got into them in the first place, and why it's so hard to get out of them. As your English teacher would tell you, there's a conflict here. The trio of songs -- "Bruises", "I Love A Snot" and "Forget It, It's A Mystery" -- work over this ground thoroughly.

Lisa nearly didn't put 'I Love A Snot' on the album. "Ivo said to me, 'I don't know why you want to write a song about snot.' I said, 'No, Ivo, it's not about snot. It's about a snot -- someone who's snotty, someone who's all snobby.' So later I was telling this story to two guys from the 4AD office in L.A., about how Ivo didn't know what a snot was and that it must mean something different in England, and how funny it was that he thought I would even write a song about snot, and they said, 'Actually, we didn't know either until you just told us.' Anyway, the words don't make sense if it's about snot."

"Forget It" was one of several songs on the album that started out mean, according to Lisa, but under the influence of co-producer Paul Mahern, took on a more positive aspect. Mahern -- the man who encouraged Lisa to release her first album -- "was trying to steer me into being more positive. He would burn sage around the house to get rid of evil spirits."

What evil spirits? "I had a bad relationship in the house. Anyway, we switched some of these songs from being hateful to being what they are . I was trying to have a sense of humour."

How many bad relationships have you had? "To be honest, just three or four -- they all end up being the same song because you keep on repeating what you're doing."

And do the guys know the songs are about them? "I think they know. Actually, one person I don't think ever knew, and I wrote whole bunches about him. Anyway, after they've become songs, they're not really about anyone anymore. They're just about situation. They're just songs."

In between the songs on Excerpts from a Love Circus you'll hear plenty of interruptions from Lisa's two cats, Dorothy and Miamo-Tutti. (Among the thank-yous on the sleeve is one for the Blue Sky clinic for saving Miamo-Tutti's life.) Dorothy takes the lead on 'Where's Miamo-Tutti?", whereas Miamo-Tutti's uneasy growling can be heard on "Just a Bad Dream". And on "There's More Kitties in the World Than Just Miamo-Tutti" Lisa gives Dorothy some advice that clearly is really aimed at herself: 'as soon as you quit looking, they'll come around.'

Which brings us neatly to the other song that Lisa nearly left off the album, "Lovesick". She says she thought maybe it was too personal. This from the woman who, on her last album, shared with us the feelings of a woman lying in bed waiting for the guy who's stalking her to break into her house ('a psychopath who says he loves me, and I'm alone and I'm cold and I'm paralysed'). What could be too personal for Lisa Germano?

In the song, a man says to her, 'You're not my Yoko Ono'. Lisa explains the reference: "I didn't realise that I was living in this myth of two people going through life together and supporting each other, no matter what, until he said that to me. John Lennon was a very artistic man. He could have had anyone in the world -- but he chose a woman who challenged him, and they became soul-mates. So for this person to say that to me, he was saying, 'I never loved you, you're not strong enough for me, and we were never soul-mates.' Of course, I should have just said, 'Yeah, and you're no John fuckin' Lennon.'"

So why was this too personal for the album? "Maybe because I do have this stupid dream of trying to find a soul-mate, and that embarrasses me, and because it bugs me that I wasn't strong enough at the time to get out of a very bad relationship because of that dream," says Lisa. "It won't happen again!...Ha, ha, ha,..."

written by
Mark Edwards
June 1996

as posted by
Jeff Keibel
Toronto, ON