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Demons Dance Alone

The Residents

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Album Review

To mark their 30th anniversary as a band, the Residents released this strangely programmatic album, their first since 1998's Wormwood: Curious Stories From the Bible. According to Cryptic Corporation (the band's corporate face), the songs on Demons Dance Alone were "written for the most part in the days following September 11" and "capture a quite different side of the Residents" — a vulnerable and questioning side that poses unanswerable questions. What this means is a more subdued ambience and more tunefulness, and a little bit less "nyah-nyah-nyah," though not that much less. The first singing voice (on "Life Would Be Wonderful") is that dorky pseudo-country & western one that listeners have all come to know and be irritated by, but the next one sounds like it could be Syd Straw or maybe Lori Carson (Residents are never identified by name), and the song she sings, "The Weatherman," is disarming in its naked emotion. Goofiness is never far from the surface, as song titles like "Mickey Macaroni" and "Make Me Moo" indicate, but this time out it is seriously tempered by what sound like — dare one suggest it? — intimations of mortality.


Formed: 1966 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Over the course of a recording career spanning several decades, the Residents remained a riddle of Sphinx-like proportions; cloaking their lives and music in a haze of willful obscurity, the band's members never identified themselves by name, always appearing in public in disguise — usually tuxedos, top hats and giant eyeball masks — and refusing to grant media interviews. Drawing inspiration from the likes of fellow innovators including Harry Partch, Sun Ra, and Captain Beefheart, the...
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