12 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Over the years Blonde Redhead have shifted from shredded guitars to dissipated dreams. On Penny Sparkle, the trio take the electronics layering from their previous release 23 and make them the floorshow. Kazu Makino sings underneath the layers of ghostly instrumentation with an enchanting voice that seems to be transmitting over skyscrapers into the canyons of downtown. “Not Getting There” is practically a forgotten disco hit from the ‘70s. Its vocal lines are immediately recognizable but also entirely brand new. The déjà vu is everywhere. “Will There Be Stars” is a mix of Britpop, Germanic synths from Nico’s solo work, and whatever dance remains once the hangover has settled in. There’s a beautiful fragility to the work.  “My Plants Are Dead” dips further into the creep zone, with a foreboding, spy-flick ticking away time and space. “Love Or Prison” furthers the noir with a tense beat stalking the narrow corridors with deep reverbs and minimal synths. The bouncy spacewalk of the many tunes makes it as if everything is suspended in space waiting for a chance to settle down.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Over the years Blonde Redhead have shifted from shredded guitars to dissipated dreams. On Penny Sparkle, the trio take the electronics layering from their previous release 23 and make them the floorshow. Kazu Makino sings underneath the layers of ghostly instrumentation with an enchanting voice that seems to be transmitting over skyscrapers into the canyons of downtown. “Not Getting There” is practically a forgotten disco hit from the ‘70s. Its vocal lines are immediately recognizable but also entirely brand new. The déjà vu is everywhere. “Will There Be Stars” is a mix of Britpop, Germanic synths from Nico’s solo work, and whatever dance remains once the hangover has settled in. There’s a beautiful fragility to the work.  “My Plants Are Dead” dips further into the creep zone, with a foreboding, spy-flick ticking away time and space. “Love Or Prison” furthers the noir with a tense beat stalking the narrow corridors with deep reverbs and minimal synths. The bouncy spacewalk of the many tunes makes it as if everything is suspended in space waiting for a chance to settle down.

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6:13
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2:49
5:19
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4:39

About Blonde Redhead

Moving from Sonic Youth-like art punk to eclectic pop over the course of their decades-long career, Blonde Redhead remained one of indie rock's most creative acts. The band formed in 1993 after Japanese art students Kazu Makino and Maki Takahashi randomly met Italian twin brothers Simone and Amedeo Pace at an Italian restaurant in New York. (The name was taken from a song by the '80s no wave band DNA.) With Makino and Amedeo on guitars and vocals, Simone on drums, and Takahashi on bass, the band's chaotic, artistic rock caught the attention of Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, who produced and released the band's debut album, Blonde Redhead, on his Smells Like Records label. Shortly after the album's release, Takahashi left the band. The remaining members continued as a trio, releasing a second album, La Mia Vita Violenta, on Shelley's label in 1995.

For their 1997 release, Fake Can Be Just as Good, recorded for Touch & Go, the trio was joined by guest bass player Vern Rumsey from Unwound. By 1998, the band eliminated bass and scaled back to guitars, drums, and vocals for In an Expression of the Inexpressible. Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons and the Melodie Citronique EP followed two years later. The band's first for 4AD, Misery Is a Butterfly, was released in spring 2004. For 2007's 23, the group opted for a mix of dream pop and delicate electronic textures. Three years later, Blonde Redhead delivered Penny Sparkle, a more stripped-down, even more electronic-leaning set of songs the band recorded in New York and Stockholm with Alan Moulder, Van Rivers, and the Subliminal Kid. In 2014, Blonde Redhead returned with Barragán, featuring production from Drew Brown (Beck, Stephen Malkmus, Radiohead). The band revisited its early days in 2016 with the Numero Group box set Masculin Feminin, which collected Blonde Redhead and La Mia Via Violenta along with demos, singles, and radio performances from that era. That year also saw the release of Freedom of Expression on Barragán Hard, a collection of Barragán remixes including contributions by Deerhoof, Van Rivers, Nosaj Thing, and Connan Mockasin. Blonde Redhead returned with new music in 2017 in the shape of the EP 3 O'Clock, which they released on their own Asa Wa Kuru Records. ~ Tracy Frey

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