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Evangenitalia

Urban Hillbilly Y’alt-Punk

The Evangenitals,
Introducing A New Americana

by Reviewer Rob
“… a unique presence in the neo-folk/freak-folk movement…”

The Evangenitals are an LA alternative-country rock band (or y’alt-punk rock) that resists firm description. Upon first appraisal they appear to draw inspiration from country, hillbilly music, Southern spirituals/gospel and early 19th-century ship song as well as traditional Klezmer music disciplines. Lyrically one might also say they are to some extent infused with the great literary heritage of Herman Melville.

This strong 7-piece band is led by the astonishingly robust vocals of Reverand Juli Crockett, a PhD student, LA film and theater director and a retired prize boxer who is said to have been a real-life model for the role Hilary Swank played in MILLION DOLLAR BABY (see link below). Recently released from touring with the hugely popular Johnny Cash tribute band Cash’d Out where she sang as June Carter, Juli Crocket is now free to pursue her more personal artistic goals.

This band and it’s lead singer should be closely watched as they come roaring through the Southern California new music scene.

On a mild February night last week, I met Juli and she provided a tour of The Stockroom on Sunset Boulevard in Silverlake, a sex-toy store/fetish-gear manufacturing plant where she works her current day job in marketing as an informal ambassador of kink. The famous retail outlet is actually where the idea for the name of the band was conceived. “We were making websites here one day,” Crockett said while we were upstairs in the administration offices, “and came up with The Evangenitals.” It’s appropriateness is unique to the band, given the alt-punk music scene milieu, the nature of the adult entertainment niche Crockett finds herself in by day and the spiritual/gospel bible-thumper roots of the Americana genre music they play. The name may hold them back from being announced any time soon on a popular late night TV talk show, but if they know that they don’t seem to care.

We shot some video interview footage and then I witnessed, as unobtrusively as I could, an Evengenitals rehearsal in their rented space nearby in downtown Los Angeles just across the LA river, and did more video and photos. You can see the photos in flash HERE.

The Evangenital’s new self-titled CD has a painting on its cover wherein a sperm whale is prominently featured, pointing to Crockett’s interest in MOBY DICK as a source of theatrical and musical inspiration.

In the world of theater, Crockett wrote and directed a Los Angeles spoken word opera adaptation of MOBY DICK which she titled or, the whale. It was presented at the 2001 Moby Dick Conference at Hofstra University and performed by the TENT group in Portland, Maine.

Or, The Whale, as you may know dear reader, is the secondary title to MOBY DICK, a book still called by many the greatest American novel ever written. Juli names this book as a recurring theme in her music and theatrical art and describes it as a story about “man’s quest for wholeness.”

From their Wikipedia listing on 2/27/10:

” The Evangenitals, formed in 2003 with friends Lisa Dee and Brett Lyda, have received considerable media attention in the LA Weekly, Music Connection Magazine, and other publications & radio stations for their singular brand of “hillbilly truckstop lullabies.” They are considered a unique presence in the neo-folk/freak-folk movement. As stated on the Orphan Records website, “Though not entirely unclassifiable, the Evangenitals are versatile and multi-layered, and will likely carry a ‘slash’ in their genre classification for as long as they exist as a band of Southern Californian country bumpkins.”

The band’s first album – “We Are The Evangenitals” – received rave reviews from fans, selling out of its first printing and receiving a 5 star rating on iTunes. The Evangenitals’ second album “Everlovin” was recorded in South Pasadena at Del Boca Vista studios in January 2007 and released in October of 2007.

In the fall of 2007 The Evangenitals went on the “Road to Oprah” tour with a documentary film crew from The 1 Second Film. The Evangenitals are composing songs for the The 1 Second Film’s “making of” documentary that will accompany its lengthy credits. The Evangenitals will also be appearing in the documentary. So as to appear more media friendly during this time, The Evangenitals went under the moniker, The Love Punks.

Writer Colum McCann spoke in an interview of Juli Crockett and the music of the Evangenitals saying, “For pure craziness, there are lots of other bands, including one that I can’t write to but I’ve become a big fan; they’re called the Evangenitals. They’re from Los Angeles. One of the front singers is a former boxer-slash-philosopher. She’s a fantastic singer. Her name is Juli Crockett.” (Powells.com/Colum McCann).

In addition to fronting The Evangenitals, Crockett also perform[ed] with Cash’d Out, the world’s premier Johnny Cash tribute band, singing the June Carter parts in their stage show.

Crockett and Lisa Dee also perform outside of the band under the name Evangina. ”

The Evangenitals play Winstons in Ocean Beach, San Diego, April 22. Check their website at evangenitals.com or myspace to confirm the date and for music downloads.

LINKS:
US News article: Million Dollar Maybe, A real-life version of Maggie Fitzgerald
Juli Crockett Producer Profile for The 1 Second Film
WBAN Boxing Record for Crockett
Evangenitals Official Site
Evangina Official Site

At left: click the pic or HERE for a members’ section performance-video and and interview with the band.

Photos below: at top, Juli Crockett belting out her Americana; middle photo: four of The Evangenitals in their rehearsal studio space; mask photos, Juli at The Stockroom, a fetish gear retail clothing store and factory in Silverlake, where she works in marketing and as Ambassador of Kink. I had asked her to pose with and without one of the elite Venetian masquerade party-crowd festival masks from in the display case… At bottom is a video file of the interview.

Photos © Reviewer Magazine, by Reviewer Rob 😀

Click HERE to explore the full Flash gallery of pics.

Quicktime video HERE

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Joan of Arc, Trespassers William, worriedaboutsatan ~ By Kent Manthie

New Music Reviews

report my Kent Manthie

Joan of Arc: Flowers
Polyvinyl Records, 2009

Legendary Chicago scenesters, Joan of Arc, have just released Flowers, their latest CD. Amazingly it is another brilliant, innovative and unique (which goes without saying) album.

In 2007 JOA put out Boo! Human an equally great CD that they had no trouble following-up. That album, Boo! Human, was chock full of what seems like contrived, well-thought out, wry songs, but in reality Tim and company, the revolving door that is Joan of Arc and probably one of the things that has kept at least the name alive all this time, for Joan of Arc has released a LOT of CDs.

In the incarnation for Flowers, Joan of Arc, this time around, consists of frontman and songwriter Tim Kinsella as well as Cale Parks, Sam Zurick and Tim’s brother Mike, aka Owen, playing drums on at least many of the tunes and doing a damn good job of it too.

This new release, Flowers, has been noted in some areas as being a little more coherent than its predecessor, Boo! Human, but to anyone who has heard some of their past, more experimental recordings such as Dick Cheney, Joan of Arc & Mark Twain, The Intelligent Design of Joan of Arc and the studio album (it’s not “live”): Live in Chicago: 1999, which Flowers seems to drift back towards since the more “structured” Boo! Human, in 2007, which, while still very unique and not at all following any formula but what happened to be in Tim’s head, which can vary wildly.

Yes, Flowers has a more experimental feel and a slowed down pace as well, that departs from their previous disc. Nonetheless, there are great songs on this album, in fact, it’s another JOA CD that is perfect for listening to from beginning to end, never getting tired or stale. The same goes for the solo work of both Owen and Cale Parks, who have both had some excellent solo albums that they did completely on their own, Owen, in his boyhood bedroom.

Songs that stick out, as far as being more “structured”, hence more easy to get in your head, are, for one, the super-catchy “Explain Yourselves Part 2”, the opening cut, mellow and performed with only singing and synthesizer, “Fogbow”, the penultimate song, “Life Sentence/Twisted Ladder” and the closing cut, “The Sun Rose”, which, if you listen closely, is an acoustic guitar solo that does some sly finger-picking, playing variations on the theme of the opening cut, the aforementioned “Fogbow”, which was exclusively done with synth. From beginning to end you discover lots of diverse ways to express oneself and some damn catchy hooks!

– KM

:::

Trespassers William: The Natural Order of Things (EP)
Gizeh Records
– release date: 6/08/09

Relatively new as a duo, Trespassers William have just released their second CD, this one an EP, entitled The Natural Order of Things, the follow-up to their debut, Different Stars, which was released on Bella Union Records, which makes The Natural Order of Things their debut for Gizeh, an indie label, based in Leeds, England, UK.

If there is any flaw one can point to about this CD it’s that it is too short! It only has five songs on it, leaving one wanting more when it’s over.

The music is a warm, glowing balm with bold beats: bare boned, white knuckle drumming, keeping a perfect beat as well as providing an anchor, a center of gravity. Over the primitive drumming is everything from sitars to synths, guitars, bass, etc, but mostly it is the voice of Anna-Lynne Williams; not in an overwhelming, loud way but because the mixer turned up her microphone louder, bringing her vocals into the forefront, becoming part of the music, not just accompanying instruments.

Anna-Lynne’s is a powerful voice, one able to enunciate and vocalize symbiotically and one that doesn’t get lost, overtaken by loud guitars or sampled noises, etc. Musically, one couldn’t ask for a better partner in Matt Brown, Anna-Lynne’s her perfect match in a musical way: Brown puts together these beautiful soundscapes and Anna-Lynne fills them in with extra vivid colors: soft pink pastels and neon lime greens.

Together they put together an angelic album: ethereal yet earthy and elegant; Matt Brown’s magical musical machinations and Anna-Lynne’s beautiful vocal musings have combined to produce something that will take the listener on a transcendental journey just lying on a divan with this on the stereo.

Sometime around the fall of this year Trespassers William will head to Europe to play a few gigs and then eventually they’ll make their way over to the US for some select dates (don’t forget Southern California!) which will probably be late in 2009 or early next year. For more information on the band, check out their website at: trespasserswilliam.com or, for more information on Gizeh Records, go to gizehrecords.com – you can also find MySpace pages for both band and label.

– KM

worriedaboutsatan: Arrivals
Gizeh Records

After releasing two EPs in their own, “DIY” style, entitled EP01 and EP02, the duo, worriedaboutsatan, made up of two Brits: long-time friends, Gavin Miller and Tom Ragsdale were snatched up by the UK’s Gizeh Records and it was for them that this dynamic duo recorded what was to become their full-length debut: Arrivals, a CD made up of 11 songs that go into one another without any stopping, just segueing right into the next tune. This works quite well, as there is no pop songs on this record, no three ½ minute little slice that one can cut out and play like so much laundry soap or French fries on your average commercial radio station. Go away radio, you’re anachronistic. People who can think for themselves don’t need to be told what is “hip” or “cool”, I would like to think that people go out and buy stuff that they really enjoy, not something as an accessory (but then that’d mean that Hannah Montana and Britney Spears really do have an appeal, limited though it may be to pre-teens, not yet exposed to drugs and DIY bands at cool clubs). For that, just stop listening to the radio. I haven’t listened to the radio for 9 years or so now and I don’t have any problem with finding new stuff to listen to not to mention all the great stuff that’s been made or composed in the last 400 years or so.

On Arrivals, worriedaboutsatan make a bold debut, they don’t sound hesitant or unsure. There is a seeming place that they want to take their sound and it shows by the structure of the songs and the continuity of the music on the CD, the way the tracks were laid down.

Track seven, “History is Made at Night” is a minimalistic jaunt that has this infectious hook/groove through it. While it’s repetitious, it is so in a cool, entrancing way. For a time the same beeps are looped over and over then in a progressive way, a fluid organ sound insinuates itself into the minimal beeps and drum machine sequence. After the wave of atmospheric ephemera rushes over everything, it just as magically wanes away, leaving in its wake a quiet wake of guitars providing a tinny melody above and over a windy synth machine. Before you know it, you’re in the middle of “Your In My Thoughts”, the next song, seamlessly born from the previous track. Track number eight, “You’re In My Thoughts”, starts off with a crackling beat, intricate percussion: two spoons being deftly manipulated, really coming to the foreground until it’s then weaved in with more drum machine programming.

Track 10, “All Things But You Are Silent”, is a tune with the imagery of a generic urban downtown setting, late at night, when streets are deserted and the lack of any people, of traffic or of anything lighted up or moving give the empty streets this look of pre-fabrication, as if it were merely a Hollywood movie set. It’s weird. So the song starts out and for about the first four or so minutes it flows with an eerily slow and minimalistic soft velvety wave of quiet stirrings, a tinkering of a bass guitar, noodling around the neck with bubbles of anchorable melody. Things get wound up some toward the end, edging it up about ¾ of the way through and then coming back to the way it began, back to the slow, quiet peace that was the gist of the theme of the tune.

The title track, song number eleven has this plaintive, wailing, sobbing guitar with just enough distortion to provide a bit of fashionable feedback (just a touch, mind you, not Jesus & Mary Chain-style feedback. But underneath is a lush, fluidity of constancy; waves of synthesizers that anchor the wandering, crying guitar.

The last two cuts are just “edits” of previous tunes: songs 12 and 13 are “edits” of “You’re In My Thoughts” and “Evil Dogs”, respectively. I, myself, could never understand the need to put extra takes, re-mixes or “edits” on CDs, something I’ve always found to be repetitive and not needed. I guess, one could justify it by saying that it allows the listener the choice between two versions, or if one really likes it, they can hear it twice in one album, mixed two different ways.

Here’s hoping that with Arrivals, worriedaboutsatan will be sticking around a while and wracking their brains to follow this up with something brave and new in the near future. Until then… -KM