Blonde Redhead

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Last year, every time I went over to my friends Sarah and Stasha's place they'd have their 50-disc changer on random. It was stocked with indie rock, Judy Garland, Missy Elliot - but mainly indie rock. Ruby Falls, Versus, Small Factory, Superchunk... YOU know. Every now and again that humongo-changer would click in to some song so familiar yet so novel, beguiling yet utterly capricious, and I'd always ask: "what IS this??" And they'd always answer "Blonde Redhead".

So I guess I ought to have a question about BH but actually I feel like thanking everyone here for the past few months of amazingness. ILx has really become an Important Part of My Life, something I never counted on. Suzy replied to one of my posts today, even. Thank you for asking questions I'd never think to. And for playing the part of Sarah and Stasha, giving me answers I'd never have suspected ("Blonde Redhead"!) and advice I never knew I needed. Chanksh.

Tracer Hand, Thursday, 11 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Aw, we likes you too, Tracer Hand. I fear I am no expert on said group, but I know Brian is a fan and there must be others...Nitsuh?

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 11 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

They're truly brilliant, and look ace too, two Italian identical (male) twins, and a (female) Japanese singer who is oddly alluring despite having a slightly weird face. As far as I know, they've done five albums (all on Touch & Go til the last one, on Southern, over hear at least), my favourite of which is "The Expression Of The Inexpressible", the sort of thing that SY would do if they weren't so damn studied. Live, they're stunning, Kazu has the sort of voice that gouges with its sheer power and then returns to a lilt to make you melt.

Chris, Thursday, 11 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Who me? I don't know anything about Blonde Redhead at all

I've always prefered Ectogram for that style, anyway.

Brian MacDonald, Thursday, 11 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

A band close to my heart or should that be.... *heheheh*

Helen Fordsdale, Thursday, 11 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Bri - what is "that style"? I've never been able to get a grip on it.

Tracer Hand, Thursday, 11 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

You know! That style... :)

No, I noticed a few other bands using the same sort of combination of Krautrock influences and lucid female vocals.. I'm hardly saying that Blonde Redhead (the stuff I heard) and Ectogram are trying to carve a new genre or anything. But I do like what I hear from Ectogram more... that's all I was sayin'.

Ectowho? Ectogram are a three-piece from Cardiff who are little hard to describe, but you have a freaky sounding female singer, and a lot of damaged psychedelic drone rock. Sometimes, it's really pretty. Sometimes, it rocks. Sometimes, it just warbled and warps in a ball hovering above you. Alan Holmes, guitarist, runs the Welsh indie label Ankst, who released the first records by Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and Super Furry Animals, among others.

Brian MacDonald, Thursday, 11 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

alan holmes looks like yoda. ectogram are pram, had they not evolved from 'gash'. ann matthews voice is otherworldly.

keith, Thursday, 11 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

When i was in high school i saw Blonde Redhead play at UC San Diego's Che Cafe, a commune / heart of all things indie rock in San Diego. This is the womb of the Locust and the Black Heart Procession, among other notable globe-trotting teen sensations. My friend and i were actually only there to see Black Heart Procession, so we weren't very attentive to the new kids on the block that were opening for them. At first, I wasn't very impressed with BR. One of the two italian boys (who the hell can tell them apart?!) did some drumming for Black Heart during their set, but in the end i easily forgot about them. It was probably three months before I heard their music come up again, and at that time I was much more receptive to their sound. now I am a fan of BR and have seen them live (doing their own show) in Chicago. Although they seem to lean a little heavily on the artifice and the bohemian avant-garde aesthetic (re: art fags), they seem to make some good music.

Timothy porter Ivison, Thursday, 11 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

I wasn't particularly impressed with BR's live set--though all three band members are indeed visually stunning. They have a real 'rockstar' attitude to boot--Kazuo (or Amadeo--whichever one plays guitar) was falling all over the stage during their set...he wasn't drunk though, unless there was vodka in his Evian.

BR seem poised for the kind of flirting-with-the-mainstream commercial success Pavement had 5 years ago--They were on a Gap billboard here in Chicago (which pissed a lot of art skool indies off). The week after, Tricky went up, and the Indie scene breathed a collective sigh of relief...

BR falls into a weird niche between purist indie rock street cred and cosmopolitan high fashion 'sell out'-ishness. Part of the genius of their act is this fence-sitting aloof arrogance. I think this may be part of the reason why they are so big with art school kids.

turner, Thursday, 11 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Hehe...what's up Tim!

turner, Thursday, 11 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

I used to think they were the worst sort of Sonic Youth wannabes. Awful cute, awful boring. Then my old roommate played me Melody for Certain Damaged Lemons and I changed my mind. They're brilliant! Haven't gotten it together to backtrack and re-listen to the old stuff, though.

And what kinda fool doesn't love Tracer Hand? I ask you.

Arthur, Saturday, 13 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

I didn't like them too much. Some nice tones and sounds, but an overall failure to make sounds which my ears liked.

Mike Hanle y, Sunday, 14 October 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

eight years pass...

new album 'penny sparkle' out sep 13th

t-shart weather (electricsound), Thursday, 24 June 2010 08:36 (eleven years ago) link

they're consistently great, but fake can be just as good remains my favourite of theirs...

Ghia (stevie), Thursday, 24 June 2010 09:00 (eleven years ago) link

Wow not alot of action on this thread in the last 9 years... Last record was adored in this household, looking forward to a new one.

WARS OF ARMAGEDDON (Karaoke Version) (Sparkle Motion), Friday, 25 June 2010 05:47 (eleven years ago) link

most of the BR threads are about the specific albums it appears

st. pancreas (electricsound), Friday, 25 June 2010 05:48 (eleven years ago) link

Here's hoping the other songs aren't as anticlimactic and b-sidey.

silence is a rhythm too (Turangalila), Friday, 25 June 2010 13:23 (eleven years ago) link

two months pass...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1E_y4g-3mM

'stand by me' beat, knife-y basslines, not bad!

but kind of anticlimactic and b-sidey

goole, Thursday, 9 September 2010 21:30 (eleven years ago) link

yeah this is out now, i almost bought it but got scared then i bought a terry reilly record instead

alexander i c u under the archway of hydromatics (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 9 September 2010 21:42 (eleven years ago) link

out early?

goole, Thursday, 9 September 2010 21:44 (eleven years ago) link

ah yes some stores named after loony tunes characters that were oft pursued by coyotes will put things out, say, ahead of schedule

alexander i c u under the archway of hydromatics (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 9 September 2010 21:50 (eleven years ago) link

*nods sagely*

goole, Thursday, 9 September 2010 21:51 (eleven years ago) link

*winks*

alexander i c u under the archway of hydromatics (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 9 September 2010 21:52 (eleven years ago) link

Hey, I like that. Haven't been paying much attention to the line up - who is that other guy? And has he been in the band for long?

jesper olsen twins (NickB), Thursday, 9 September 2010 22:07 (eleven years ago) link

I liked it too for the first minute or so, then it tailed off a bit I thought - just as with the other track I've heard off the new record.

which looney tunes characters were pursued by coyotes? Please remind me, it's driving me mad

Daniel Giraffe, Friday, 10 September 2010 11:48 (eleven years ago) link

three years pass...

Looks like there's gonna be a new BR record this year - I wonder what it'll sound like. Penny Sparkle was the first BR LP to be poorly received but it's great autumn/winter listening IMO. I've a slight preference for Amedeo's singing and he only sang on one and a half songs on PS, yet Kazu never sounded better - even her breaths in between lines sounded great. Last year was, I think, their twentieth anniversary, but seemed to pass without anybody noticing. Anyone else anticipating or fancy predicting where they'll go next?

Supposed Former ILM Lurker (WeWantMiles), Wednesday, 28 May 2014 11:41 (seven years ago) link

one month passes...

I think I like this a lot?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPmd2CXGpXQ

Johnny Fever, Monday, 21 July 2014 00:55 (seven years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Confirmed. I do like it a lot.

Johnny Fever, Tuesday, 5 August 2014 20:23 (seven years ago) link

Thanks for the confirmation.

Immediate Follower (NA), Tuesday, 5 August 2014 20:24 (seven years ago) link

one month passes...

I do think they've finally figured a way out of the corner they'd painted themselves into. Like this album more than anything they've done in quite a while.

dlp9001, Friday, 5 September 2014 21:38 (seven years ago) link

really? it's possibly the dullest record i've heard in years, it's barely there

a cheese has occurred (electricsound), Saturday, 6 September 2014 00:08 (seven years ago) link

Everything they've done recently has sounded like the soundtrack for buying clothes in downtown NYC. This breaks away from that. I like the more minimalist sound. No More Honey kind of harks back to their early stuff, though it does the noise in a different way than they would have back then.

dlp9001, Saturday, 6 September 2014 01:30 (seven years ago) link

yeah this is incredibly boring and disappointing. I loved Misery and 23, the last one was heading into wallpaper territory, and this one fully lives there. It barely sounds like finished songs, just noodling. blech.

akm, Thursday, 18 September 2014 04:05 (seven years ago) link

one year passes...

Blonde Redhead
FREE SHOW - June 16 – Thursday - 7:00pm – Red Hook Park, Brooklyn
http://www.cityparksfoundation.org/event/summerstage-blonde-redhead/

ulysses, Thursday, 21 April 2016 02:23 (five years ago) link

uh

lute bro (brimstead), Thursday, 21 April 2016 03:03 (five years ago) link

cool, i might go to this

Treeship, Thursday, 21 April 2016 03:05 (five years ago) link

their last album was great so many blonde redhaters in this thread

sunlick databait extremer, Friday, 22 April 2016 01:49 (five years ago) link

one year passes...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SLtxuJh1UY

I was unaware there was a new EP out this year, but it's stunning.

Le Bateau Ivre, Wednesday, 27 September 2017 13:41 (four years ago) link

melody of certain damaged is their best IMO

Week of Wonders (Ross), Wednesday, 27 September 2017 13:42 (four years ago) link

(EP's up on Spotify xp)

Le Bateau Ivre, Wednesday, 27 September 2017 13:42 (four years ago) link

Fake Can Be Just As Good is my favourite

Dr Keith Assblow (stevie), Wednesday, 27 September 2017 13:42 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

Blonde Redhead is the best band in the world y/n

Le Bateau Ivre, Tuesday, 17 September 2019 20:33 (two years ago) link

y, obv

Le Bateau Ivre, Tuesday, 17 September 2019 20:33 (two years ago) link

I won't disagree

fremmes with neppavenettes (rip van wanko), Tuesday, 17 September 2019 22:04 (two years ago) link

four months pass...

From the best discography thread:

Kazu made an album last year called Adult Baby, pretty cool

― Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, January 30, 2020 4:06 PM (one week ago) bookmarkflaglink

.. it is pretty cool! Lush, dreamlike atmosphere, the beats are driving this thing forward but it's quite esoteric and intimate. Thanks again for the rec, I missed she released this last year.

Le Bateau Ivre, Saturday, 8 February 2020 00:13 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

Blonde Redhead is the best band in the world y/n

<3

Melody>Misery>23 is such an amazing run. Been playing them all week.

willem, Friday, 19 November 2021 06:52 (one week ago) link

indeed, fucking incredible band

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 19 November 2021 15:09 (one week ago) link

live they seemed like 3 very musically competent aliens....just brought a completely different energy than most other bands

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMAKwFHXU2o

call all destroyer, Friday, 19 November 2021 15:27 (one week ago) link

I need to revisit Misery onward... I got off the bus after Melody

But Melody is honestly one of the best albums I've ever heard

flamboyant goon tie included, Friday, 19 November 2021 15:33 (one week ago) link

their early more noisey touch n go-ish shit rules too, they were good at everything

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 19 November 2021 15:37 (one week ago) link

Yeah I tend to agree but I'm far less familiar with those albums as I got on the bus late with Misery. There's a Gainsbourg-like mood/melodicism to the three I mentioned that really clicks with me

willem, Friday, 19 November 2021 16:22 (one week ago) link

They are doing an arena tour with Tool in Jan/Feb. Hope it goes alright for them.

Position Position, Friday, 19 November 2021 16:26 (one week ago) link

The craziest thing I learned from John Lurie's memoir was he is the person who introduced Kazu to the Pace Bros & said you should be a band

chr1sb3singer, Friday, 19 November 2021 16:33 (one week ago) link

Their third and fourth albums aren't as easy a listen as the others but they made for some of the most compelling live performances I've ever seen. This is a really good document of them at the peak of their (live) powers... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRN1LkYm7-U

Supposed Former ILM Lurker (WeWantMiles), Friday, 19 November 2021 18:01 (one week ago) link

They were honestly the best live band going for two albums

flamboyant goon tie included, Friday, 19 November 2021 18:19 (one week ago) link

Yeah I saw them 5 or 6 times between 97-99 and they were incredible. Walking into the big, boomy, reverb-y Congress Theater in Chicago were they were opening for Fugazi right as they started playing "Kasuality" they instantly put the zap on me. Every time I hear that song I am right back in the room with them. Reality dub.

chr1sb3singer, Friday, 19 November 2021 18:26 (one week ago) link

Heh part of the reason I never fell as hard for Unwound (though I did grow to love 'em) was BR outflanked them, swiped Vern and made a better Unwound record than Unwound with Fake Can be Just As Good (even the title 'natch)

chr1sb3singer, Friday, 19 November 2021 18:33 (one week ago) link

Fake... is my favourite BR album. I interviewed them for my zine when they played London on that tour, and helped them load in at Upstairs At The Garage, where the sound woman was a dick to them when they discovered none of their plugs would work with UK current. The show that night was amazing, Kazu and Amadeo just kept colliding with each other throughout these really intense, near-the-emotional-knuckle songs, almost wrestling with each other, this cathartic, erotic, manic, visceral punk ballet. I think of it every time I listen to that album, which is often.

Melody>Misery>23 is such an amazing run. Been playing them all week.

― willem, vrijdag 19 november 2021 7:52 (two days ago) bookmarkflaglink

Completely agree! It's the exact run that comes by here every now and again.

A Scampo Darkly (Le Bateau Ivre), Sunday, 21 November 2021 17:51 (one week ago) link

There was a period where every show they played was said to be incredible, I only saw them twice during this time (and it ruled both time), but every time a friend's band would come home from some festival they would get this look like "omg Blonde Redhead played and it was the best show I've ever seen". My best friend called me on the phone in 2000 just to say "I just heard a perfect album, come over" and he played me Melody. Every mix CD my friends made had "This Is Not" on it and everybody named Alex would get sick of people singing "ex, ex... Alex..." at them

I wanna re-listen to Misery onward while forgetting how much I love that first run of records. I always filed this band away mentally as a kinda proto-Deerhoof, with less-impressive drumming made up for with the "we like Chopin" voice leading choices. When Misery came out I think I was like "oh no this sounds like sad Postal Service" and never gave it more than a cursory listen. I saw them live in Utah in 2015 I think, it was very good but didn't have the same magic as the early days. Backing tracks did no favours for this band's show imo!

flamboyant goon tie included, Monday, 22 November 2021 11:13 (one week ago) link

"There's a Gainsbourg-like mood/melodicism to..." [Willem, upthread]

My first exposure to Blonde Redhead was on the Gainsbourg tribute album (1997) in John Zorn's Radical Jewish Culture series. Kazu also appeared on the Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited album a few years later.

giraffe, Monday, 22 November 2021 14:12 (one week ago) link

Loved them since the 1st album, but everything after 23 has felt like a letdown.

Pfunkboy AKA (Oor Neechy), Monday, 22 November 2021 15:03 (one week ago) link

They were honestly the best live band going for two albums

― flamboyant goon tie included, Friday, November 19, 2021 1:19 PM (three days ago) bookmarkflaglink

the first time i saw them was after melody came out and i didn't know any of their earlier stuff at the time, so at the show when they played shit like "water" at absolute full noise rock intensity i was like wait who the HELL are these guys? just incredible. the next day i was probably downloading a bunch of mp3s to track down that song.

call all destroyer, Monday, 22 November 2021 21:13 (one week ago) link

during that period, Fake was my favorite out of all of them. i do appreciate their later run (melody --> 23), but it was especially great as a contrast against so much of that harder edged earlier stuff

just staying (Karl Malone), Monday, 22 November 2021 21:27 (one week ago) link

I love the trajectory of BR's discography. Each album feels like a clear continuation of the album that came right before it - and yet comparing the late work to the early work, it might as well be two entirely different bands. Lots of bands evolve their sound over time but there is something insistently linear about the way BR did.

sctttnnnt (pgwp), Monday, 22 November 2021 22:34 (one week ago) link

I was like "oh no this sounds like sad Postal Service"

Haha, this is brutal! Misery is the most intense, cold-sweat inducing, darkly seductive fever dream ever put down to music. Hugely important to me, which says precisely nothing, but twee sad Postal Service (which I enjoy in its own way, though way less meaningful) it is not, and not even close to my ears! I love the analogy nonetheless.

A Scampo Darkly (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 22 November 2021 22:47 (one week ago) link


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