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Bet the Sky

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Album Review

The third full-length by Olympia, WA's Lois Maffeo finds the singer-songwriter with a new pair of musical partners, Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty on guitar and ex-Tiger Trap drummer Heather Dunn, but otherwise continuing the low-key, but never lo-fi, acoustic twee pop of the earlier Butterfly Kiss and Strumpet. The difference this time is that Maffeo's songwriting is sharper, with better melodies and cleverer lyrics. The opening "Charles Atlas," a witty recasting of the wimp-turned-macho man ads from the comic books, is one of Maffeo's best songs, with a memorable hook and sing-along chorus. The other nine songs on this brief (under 30 minutes) album benefit from Maffeo's more self-assured vocals, which don't have the half-baked, flyaway quality that occasionally marred Lois' earlier records; songs like "Transatlantic Telephone Call" and the dreamy "Wrestling an Angel" sound more like the Pretenders or Joni Mitchell than Young Marble Giants or the Softies. Some of the other tracks sound a bit more alike than they were probably meant to, but Bet the Sky shows that indie pop can exhibit a modicum of skill and sophistication yet still be twee.


Formed: 1992 in Olympia, WA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Singer/songwriter Lois Maffeo long reigned as one of the most respected voices in American indie pop -- a key proponent of the Pacific Northwest's love rock scene, her spare, lo-fi sound and steadfast adherence to an underground ethos blazed a trail for the countless female acts to emerge in her wake. A native of Phoenix, AZ, Maffeo began attending Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, in 1981, initially becoming a fixture of the city's thriving music scene as a result of her grrrl-centric radio...
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Bet the Sky, Lois
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