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Album Review

This band is now definitely one of rock music's best-kept secrets — which means that lots of people are missing out on some of the most intense and exciting music around. The core duo of QueenAdreena, singer Katie Jane Garside and guitarist Crispin Gray, had indeed made an immediate splash in the British music media when they started their career, leading the band Daisy Chainsaw in 1992. Pretty much following the lead of the Sex Pistols, however, their wild-child lead singer left them after one album and it was pretty much over. What Katie Jane Garside managed to avoid by that move was having to lead a life in the limelight the way Courtney Love has endured it (since her breakthrough with Hole around the same time). Probably a smart move. That way, she remains a fascinatingly mysterious persona (unscathed by relentless media glare) who, as a singer and performer, remains breathtakingly hard to describe. Her presence includes little-girl innocence, a teasing sensuality, malevolence, insistence, danger, tension, confusion and its opposite: knowing what she wants in moments of clarity. She seems out of control on the surface, but then again very much in control of what she wants to express. Over the course of the first two albums, Taxidermy and Drink Me, it felt as if the name change away from Daisy Chainsaw was a bit unnecessary — they were a clear continuation of the original excitement and buzzsaw style of their 1992 debut. Only on the third album, The Butcher and the Butterfly, did slight causes for concern appear, in the sense that they might be "getting old." The production was a bit too tidy, some songs were written in a rather staid blues-rock vein, the whole album felt a bit too carefully conceptualized.

All those worries are totally blown away by this fourth album. Djin is pretty much QueenAdreena's masterpiece, balancing all their characteristically mercurial elements on the solid basis of the mastery of an accomplished band, which was left by the media to grow at its own pace. So again Katie Jane Garside goes careening through the madness of love, desire, and lust in her lyrics, both teasing and threatening (not least: herself) at the same time (which actually sounds too cheap a description; there's actually more finesse and subtlety to it, but it really is difficult to do justice to it with words). Again, a few of the songs go for a simpler blues-rock style, but this time their atmosphere is suitably electrified. One of them, "Happy Now," includes the album's mysterious title word in its lyrics: "Composure balanced by the drink/A slack jaw black djin/Smiles all bent and broken." In keeping with the feelings conveyed here, it leaves the meaning of "Djin" unfocused so as to keep listeners on their toes — no easy listening here. More typical are the punk-edged songs (with a bit of Black Sabbath menace thrown in), with highlights like "Crows" and "Pretty Fish (Turn Pink)." A seven-minute doom-laden slow-burning song called "You (Don't Love Me)" is to be found at the heart of the album, dwelling on the distinct catastrophe that the matter-of-fact statement of its title can spell for anyone who ever went through that particular frustration. In recent years, media ignorance notwithstanding, Katie Jane Garside has actually become almost proliferous, having started her own side project called Lalleshwari and more recently two albums under the name Ruby Throat in which she appeals more to quieter, folk music sensibilities, but with the same talent for songwriting and that unique suspense in her singing that makes her so fascinating.

Biography

Formed: 2000

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Katie Jane Garside first made noise in the early '90s in the U.K. post-punk outfit Daisy Chainsaw. Her rag doll look of torn dresses besmirched in mud made her vulnerability a quick target for the media. Unfortunately, Daisy Chainsaw only released one album with Garside's vocal theatrics; she left the band in 1992 under pressures of being in the limelight. Eight years later, she and former Chainsaw guitarist Crispin Grey joined forces for QueenAdreena...
Full bio
Djin, Queenadreena
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