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.