Heather Leather – Princess Leather

22 07 2009

Heather LeatherPrincess Leather
1988/2005 – Self Released (?)

Thanks to Aesop at Cosmic Hearse for facilitating my finding of this band/album. Heather Leather is an all-girl metal band active in the 80s (and now, amazingly – according to their myspace, they’re playing shows in their hometown) in San Antonio, Texas. Princess Leather was recorded in 1988 and released at long last in 2005.

The first thing you notice about Princess Leather is that they need to tune their guitars. I’m not trying to be a dick, but the opening bars of “Princess Leather,” the first song on Princess Leather the album sound like a honky-tonk piano because they have that weird, unintentional reverb thing that happens when something is out of tune. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter because the second thing you notice about the album is that Heather Leather really, really fucking love heavy metal. Yeah, the technical proficiency on this album isn’t all that high, but you’ve really got to admire any bunch of people who love music so much they go out there and make some of it themselves, even if they don’t play like Adrian Smith… and I don’t mean that as some kind of pity point. It’s hard to start a band and play shows and record albums, and it’s harder when you’re reaching for a style that requires playing that’s just a little beyond your grasp. It’s nice to hear something that isn’t ironic or clever in any way (and yeah, not a lot of 80s metal was very ironic or clever, but still), and when singer Sylvia Garza goes in for one of her almost-falsetto Bruce Dickinsonion wails, it kind of makes chills go up my spine.

Anyway, after a rocking (but kind of long, sorry) first track, Princess Leather steps it up a notch for “Angel Lover” and “Let’s Rock,” both moderately fast-paced, guitar-driven 80s-metal-sounding songs about typical 80s-metal themes (namely loving/fucking and rocking) and then cools it down and spices it up (simultaneously – I know!) for “Shy Boy,” which actually reminded me a tiny, tiny bit of Gloria Estefan, even though it doesn’t really sound like her at all. “Now You Return” sounds like a doo-wop 80s song (in a good way), and then the last three tracks kick it back up into metal territory. My favorite is the last song, “Undercover,” which uses the words “child molestor” about 800 times. I didn’t catch what they were talking about, but I’d be all for appointing Heather Leather in charge of meting out justice to pedophiles.

All in all, this record made me smile, which is something that not all that much music does to me anymore. Maybe it means I’m a bandwagon-jumping quasi-hipster asshole who’s just getting her kicks by surfing older and more knowledgeable people’s blogs, but that’s not my intent. It seems like most of the people who are putting out music today who really go all out are electronic musicians who are so acutely aware and calculating about what they’re doing that it doesn’t have any more meaning than a U2 concert. Lady GaGa (or whoever she is) has nothing on Heather Leather, and I wish them all the best in their continuing musical career.





Pig Destroyer – Phantom Limb

3 06 2008

Pig DestroyerPhantom Limb
2007 – Relapse Records

Pig Destroyer sound kind of like what a math-rock band would sound like if that math-rock band was actually a grindcore band. At first, it’s easy to get caught up in the sheer volume of sound and notes that come at you following the opening sample on Phantom Limb, but it hits you a couple of tracks in that this band probably actually listens to a lot of Shellac and Don Caballero. Actually, the really cool thing Pig Destroyer seem to be able to do is play math/grindcore without making the mathy stuff sound really obvious and obnoxious. It probably seems like a stupid thing to describe a grindcore band who clearly take a page from the book of Discordance Axis as having good “flow,” but when I think about it, that’s exactly what Pig Destroyer have. They’re loud and really fast and have fucked-up-sounding vocals, but they also have soul, and they make it all sound easy.

That probably sounds really stupid to some of you, who are thinking, “uh, what you’re describing is called ‘mathcore’ and Botch invented it.” Yeah, mathcore and math rock are generally seen as being two different things, but listening to this record in particular (and yeah, I’ve heard Botch – who I really like – and Dillinger Escape Plan and Ion Dissonance and The End and The Locust and Hella and Converge and even Protest The Hero, etc. etc. etc.) made me think that really, all that mathcore bands do is speed up the math rock concept. Where math rock superimposes weird time signatures on more traditional rock ‘n roll formats and tropes, mathcore does the exact same thing but with metal/grindcore. The thing that, to me, makes this album stand out, though, is that that it does all this mathy stuff so stealthily. Where Botch and the like have made careers out of being insanely technical and doing all this crazy time-signature stuff, Pig Destroyer just slip it in there and don’t make a big thing about it.

Oh, and the last track, “Track Numero Quince” is really creepy.

Sorry, again, for the short length of this post. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to expand it tomorrow, but I’m fighting some kind of Canadian Death Flu here, and I have to work in the morning.

Also Listened:
Ray Davies – Working Man’s Cafe
Mates of State – Re-Arrange Us
Various Artists – When Rhythm Was King
The Sonics – Psycho Sonic
Justin Townes Earle – The Good Life
Rank and File – Long Gone Dead
Alejandro Escovedo – The Boxing Mirror
The Sainte Catherines – Dancing For Decadence
The Ramones – Subterrainean Jungle
Russian Circles – Station