the pathetic caverns - music by artist - Ednaswap
eclectic reviews and opinions
LA's Ednaswap may have been signed by Eastwest (which is Atlantic, which is Warner Bros., trying to look sorta indie) in a feeding frenzy to get the next Veruca Salt or the next Elastica, but then, that's not exactly their fault. Like Veruca Salt they sprinkle the record with quiet bits in-between the loud bits. Their songs go on longer than Elastica's -- thirteen of them take nearly an hour, and are less overtly poppy, but nonetheless the faster numbers still evoke Justine and crew. Singer Annie Previn's vox are pretty rough-edged and raspy when she cranks (most of the time) and quite pretty when she sings the soft bits -- not entirely unlike Johnette Napolatino's (from Concrete Blonde). On a couple of numbers, notably "The State I'm In," she sounds kinda like Perry Farrell, formerly of Jane's Addiction. They've got a two-pronged guitar attack, and one of the guitar players has a very nicely amelodic sense to his fills. Not bad at all. Feminist bonus points for having a female drummer, quite a basher. Produced by Matt Wallace (producer for the Replacements, etc.) and (band member) Scott Cutler.
I reviewed this band's 1995 EastWest debut and somehow managed to compare them to Veruca Salt and Elastica -- I don't know what the hell I was thinking. This is pretty grungy stuff, really, and Pearl Jam is probably a better reference point, although there's a bluesy grit to Anne Preven's voice that I only wish Eddie Vedder had more of, and she doesn't have that histrionic quality to her singing that impedes my enjoyment of those Seattle boys' music.
Two of the tracks, "Therapy" and "Torn" are re-recorded from the first album, and both of them are substantial improvements over the originals -- the new version of "Therapy" takes the excessive echo off the vocal, and "Torn" has a completely new arrangement which shows off the song's emotional intensity more effectively, as well as showing a better command of dynamic range than the band has shown previously -- the new version is really a stand-out. [Natalie Imbruglia (or mebbe her handlers) thought so too -- yeah, it's the same song. Didn't help Ednaswap's career, somehow. -- ed.]
Not that the new songs are lame or anything. In general, the sound is tighter, a bit more agressive, and the arrangements have a more "live" sound. The lyrics are generally still pretty angst-ridden -- not exactly innovative, but hardly embarrassing. The future seems to be looking pretty good for Ednaswap -- I'm looking forward to the next full album.
Each time I put on this record, I wonder why I like it. It's a lot closer to by-the-numbers grunge than anything that usually spends time going into my ears -- things I think that it has going for it: it's surely energetic enough. The band has pretty fair dynamic range even if the emotional range is a little narrow. Mostly, though, I find Preven's vocals a lot more to my taste than, the guy from Stone Temple Pilots or whatever -- she's got a good, gritty voice with a nice bluesy edge to it. There are some nice lyrical bits, that show promise -- I particularly like "All Time Low," which starts out with the fine opening salvo "You look so uneasy, in that easy chair." Anybody who regularly buys records based on my recommendations should be warned that this is more riff-oriented and less hooky than the stuff I usually go for. The key point though, is that while I may be scrabbling to justify why I like it, the bottom line is that for whatever reason, it is in pretty heavy rotation at pathetic central at the moment.
Since I slammed myself when I reviewed their '96 ep for hearing a similarity to Elastica in their '95 debut, I will note very briefly that something about "Chordomatic" really does remind me of Elastica.
I'll also note a cute packaging gimmick -- the art is all pinball themed, and you will find a little ball bearing rattling around in your jewel case.
The record reprises four songs from their debut, including "Torn," which was also on last year's e.p. -- if they put it on their next record, that'll definitely be going too far, although it is one of the stronger songs on the disc. I like the performances and production of the new versions better in all cases -- sounds more "live," a little rawer, in a good way. And it's a good sign that my fave track is one of the new ones: "YDWIBE" (a.k.a. "You Don't Want It Badly Enough.")
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