Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Soviettes Turn 10 With LP II

The SoviettesAfter ten years of being a definite punk rock girl band (plus Danny Henry) from Minnesota, the completely remastered rerelease of LP II couldn't have landed on a better week. LP II was a slamming sophomore album that received some attention but not nearly enough.

It was a shame it didn't get more. From front to back the album rekindles everything that was right about Berkeley-infused punk since its beginning in the 1990s, while adding in just enough pop punk to keep pace with the flavor of 2004. In other words, it retained the rawness that some pretend punks abandoned for more radio play.

So what happened? That is the question that Annie "Sparrows" Holoien (guitar, vocals), Maren "Sturgeon" Macosko (guitar, vocals), Susy Sharp (bass, vocals), and Henry (drums, vocals) have been asking themselves. Maybe it's best to stick with what Henry said in 2007. "I don't know why we broke up," he said, claiming it was relationships even though it had more to do with an aggressive summer tour schedule.

The Soviettes Reunite For Sporadic Shows And Outings.

What is more clear is why they reunited to play a few fests and similar shows. Initially, Ollie Mikse of Red Sound Records tracked the members down and asked if he could compile a rarities collection and revive the band name. Six months later, it was put out without much fanfare (mostly for good reason outside of a few tracks). The band's own words nail it down.

"Some of it is great, and some of it is totally embarrassing but it's honest," the band submitted with its release. "When we get together in March to play a few shows and have a party for the record, it will be the first time we'll all have been in a room together since the day we stopped playing."

Following the release, they did play in March and have some upcoming shows slated for California (San Francisco in August, Alpine Village and San Diego in September). For Adeline, the timing couldn't be better — a remastered release from the band it signed and then lost to Fat Wreck Chords made sense.

Just as I said then, never mind that most songs wrap in under two minutes. The Soviettes lend more power than most fit into a four-minute track. And, unlike many bands, first-time listeners will discover that the songwriting is just as strong as the musicianship.

While the vintage video #1 Is Number Two is catching some added attention, there are plenty of tracks worth checking out on LP II. Three of my favorites are Ten, Whatever You Want, and Goes Down Easy. The slow down on Tonight is also a nice change of pace, bordering on garage rock more than punk.

Across all of it, what stands out the most is their ability to have four individual personalities come through on a band effort. The same holds true when they perform live. All recent mentions suggest they sound like they never took a break. Two of them really didn't. Holoien and Henry continued to play for some time together in the band Awesome Snakes. But nowadays, all of them have different obligations and three are in other bands.

Holoien plays with The God Damn Doo Wop Band. Macosko plays in The Gateway District. Sharp is in That's Incredible. Of the three, That's Incredible has the most potential based on last year's EP. The Gateway District is good, but still needs to settle into a singular sound instead of two overlapping sounds. The God Damn Doo Wop Band is an alt doo wop band. It's different and it is too soon to tell. Check those out if you like. None of it sounds as good as the four of them together.

The Soviettes Remastered LP II Strikes 8.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

I've been toggling back and forth between the original release and the remastered one for a few days. The most discernible difference is that Adeline pushed up the vocals and cleaned up a few spots and punched up others. It works.

Along with LP II, the Rarities release does have some gems on the 18-track album. It's The Red, Matt's Song, Latchkey, are all worth the download. Good enough, in fact, that you might long for another outing.

Otherwise, pick up LP II on iTunes. If you want to dig up more there, search for Soviettes and The Soviettes. The original II is at Amazon. You can also find the 2004 version at Barnes & Noble. Double check the release dates to be safe, but generally the 2004 version is gray or orange. The new one is blue-green.
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