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F*ck You, Tammy seeing double on Twin Peaks cover version

The final episode of Twin Peaks’ second season was originally broadcast on June 10, 1991, its last episode for over 25 years. The episode (in)famously ended with an extended, mind-bending sequence set in the Black Lodge where some of the show's lead characters are trapped, but in the form of their evil doppelgängers, including an “Evil Coop” which was a shocker since Agent Dale Cooper was the all-American-black-coffee-and-cherry-pie-lovin’ hero of the series. But in the end, the real-world Good Coop is trapped in purgatory with his mirror-image facsimile Evil Coop released into the world to wreck havoc having been possessed by the show's personification of evil Killer BOB who grins and rants manically at fake Cooper from a fractured mirror. And, oh yeah, SPOILER ALERT! 

This was the unresolved ending to a show already fixated on doubles, dualities, and doppelgängers for the duration of its first two seasons. So it’s fitting there's a band out there called F*ck You, Tammy (see Twin Peaks: The Return to get the reference, again a doppelgänger is involved) who formed to perform live versions of music from the Twin Peaks universe. Because when you think about it, copies and interpolations of pre-existing songs (a.k.a. “cover versions”) are essentially the musical equivalent of doppelgängers—with covers having near-identical surface characteristics to the original in most cases (the same lyrics, melodies, chords) but nonetheless transformed into something new, whether a semi-precise-but-not-quite-exact imitation or a more radical reinterpretation. 

The song that's covered by F*ck You, Tammy at the top of this page is called “Sycamore Trees”, composed by frequent David Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti with lyrics by Lynch himself. It was introduced in the Twin Peaks episode described above when Agent Cooper first enters the Black Lodge, sung on camera by the legendary Jimmy Scott (or rather, mimed on camera to his own voice). The F.U. Tammy rendition fittingly adheres to the David Lynch ideal of a near-identical doppelgänger. But one with significant differences gradually becoming visible, or rather audible, a copy that takes on a life of its own. 

And speaking of copies taking on a life of their own, here’s how lead singer Devery Doleman describes their rendition: "Sycamore Trees" is one of my favorite songs to perform because not only is it an incredible song, but it's such an intimate back and forth between everyone in the band: there are certain moments where the band follows the vocal, others where the vocal responds to the band.  Maybe our third show Anthony, our sax player, decided that he would wait somewhere off stage and then start the sax solo from the audience, and we've done at each live show since. And it feels from my point of view that in the first half of the song she is searching for someone in the woods, and when the sax comes in, it's the arrival of the person she's seeking - but it's different every time we perform the song. I think our version, while faithful to the original, is even darker if that's possible. 

In common with Twin Peaks' doppelgängers, the song's original vocalist Jimmy Scott also knew a thing or two about being one way on the outside while being another way on the inside, as a result of Kallman Syndrome—a syndrome causing its victim to never reach puberty which accounted for Mr. Scott eternally boyish appearance and striking soprano voice, but a voice weighed down by adult experience and heartbreak. A specialist in cover songs, he was known for wringing nuance and pathos out of familiar pop tunes and jazz standards, locating their dark underbelly with his tremulous-but-super-intense vibrato like on “Laughing on the Outside” above where the emphasis is definitely more on “crying on the inside.”

And finally, a final plug for the recent pair of DELI-assembled year-end 2020-2021 comps (check out PART I and PART II on Spotify!) which serve as twin doppelgängers in their own right (!) and which contain seven count ‘em seven (!) cover versions covering the full spectrum of coverdom—with Cigar Cigarette & MOTHERMARY doing Cyndi Lauper, Catherine Moan doing Depeche Mode, Weekend Lovers doing George Michael, Slut Magic doing Bobby Darin, Desert Sharks doing ’Til Tuesday, Spite FuXXX doing Dolly Parton, and Jess Casinelli doing The Smiths. (Jason Lee)

Cover photo by Simon Sun





Bad Static explore sweet-and-sour duality on "Cherry Cyanide" EP

Hey, did you know you can get poisoned and maybe even die from eating too many cherry pits? Well neither did I, that is, until hearing the new Bad Static EP Cherry Cyanide released today. Because, as hinted at in the title, cherry pits contain a chemical that once ingested gets converted into the toxic compound hydrogen cyanide. The more you know!

But this EP isn't a science lesson, instead it taps into the longstanding status of cherries as a metaphoric device. So it makes sense Cherry Cyanide is a concept album (erm, concept EP) based around the notion that some things (or even people) in life may be sweet on the outside but then turn out to be not-so-sweet on the inside if not downright toxic. Take the EP’s eponymous opening song, for instance, which starts with a familiar three-chord major-key progression that sounds like the band’s about to launch into a fun-loving cover version of “Louie Louie” or “Wild Thing” or “Walking on Sunshine.” 

But then there's a sudden shift when the drums kick in alongside a low-key menacing minor-key descending guitar riff, and lyrics about how you’ll soon be “foaming at the mouth / oh there is no doubt / my cherry cyanide / will make you wanna die.” Meaning when the chorus returns to those major chords from before with entreaties to “Kiss me! Kiss me!” and “Drink me! Drink me!” you may have second thoughts given what you’ve learned about cherry pit consumption and the consequences of fatal kisses even though the “bittersweet ending” is still tempting and it's this seductive-yet-dangerous vibe that the song really captures. The more you know!

And speaking of surface prettiness/inner menace it’s fitting the Cherry Cyanide press release namechecks bands like the Runaways and the lesser-known Anemic Boyfriends as influences–the latter being an underage Anchorage-based early ‘80s punk rock trio (!) led by one “Louise Disease” whose über-bratty, sneering leering delivery is appropriate to her moniker–because here are two bands who used surface prettiness to get a foot in the door in order to kick your teeth in with their take-no-prisoners ‘tude and music, a strategy used by many female rock musicians past and present to fight the frequent sexism of rock audiences and the music industry (except for “emerging artist music blogs” which are hardly part of the "industry" and always enlightened!) plus either way it’s pretty cool to be a glamorous savage no matter your gender.

The next song “Ectoplasm Nightmares” continues this theme of inner/outer duality–except the narrative perspective is switched to that of the victim–with lyrics about being possessed by an outside presence, i.e., “feeling haunted by people from your past and going to drastic measures to try and forget.” Bad Static put this across musically by starting off with a plodding beat and doomy Sabbath-y sorta riff before kicking into a driving double-time rhythm with lyrical pleas for demonic exorcism and warnings of crumbling sanity before lead singer Nicol Maciejewska (whose vocals up to this point alternate between sedated and sneering) tops off the song with a growling “you’re making me go insaaaaane!” and a burst of crazy-kookoo-train manic laughter as the music disintegrates behind her.

The third-and-final song “Reanimation” is inspired by necromancy with “little whispers building up inside…calling you from the gra-a-a-ave” and here again the narrative perspective changes, but this time switching to the entity or entities haunting the narrator in the previous song, which is a neat way to put across the loss of a grounded, singular perspective that’s inherent to some forms of mental illness (and to modern art natch) which is another theme of the song and again the music nails the vibe cuz I've got scenes from Evil Dead playing in my head when this plays.

And this one's the most Runaways-esque of the bunch with its throbbing power chords and stuttering vocal delivery (from “ch-ch-cherry bomb” to “I’ve been calling you from the gra-a-a-ave”) and one can only hope that the galvanizing musical presentation here by Nicol (vox, rhythm guitar) Kelsie (backing vox, bass) Mario (lead guitar, production) and Demetrio (drums, percussion) and the not-so-subliminal mantra of “reanimate me!” don't lead to an epidemic of children playing with dead things despite the PSA message contained in the opening lyric. (Jason Lee)





Seasonal record roundup: The Heart Attack-Acks drop a "Love Bomb" and an Xmas banger

On “Love Bomb,” the debut single by The Heart Attack-Acks, the Queens-based duo of Candice and Cody bring an energy and dynamism to the disco-new-wave number that the world hasn't witnessed since Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley danced around awkwardly in front of a car repair shop circa 1983a car repair shop that just happened to employ a small crew of line-dancing mechanics plus a couple crop-top-wearing-popping-and-locking breakdancers—and by the way this is the second song called “Love Bomb” to be reviewed on this blog in the past several months so please no confused letters to the editor!

And if this seems like a pretty random comparison to draw just check out the Heart Attack-Acks press photo above and tell me there's not a downtown-guy-uptown-girl dynamic at work there–except since they’re from Queens it means Cody must live in Glendale, or maybe Ridgewood, whereas Candice must live up in fancy-pants Astoria Heights. And oh yeah there’s the matter of the band’s name too.

As far as “Love Bomb” goes, well, it doesn’t sound a whole heckuva lot like “Movin’ Out” that's true. But it’s clearly indebted to the music Billy J. was likely vibing to that same year (1977) on nights when he’d put on the ol' Groucho Marx disguise and drive from Long Island to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to hit the 2001 Odyssey discotheque with Tony and the boys. And also on nights when he’d drive into Manhattan to hear some next phase new wave down on the Bowery. Which is all just a way of saying that “Love Bomb” is a twitchily danceable mutant punky-disco-party-tune. And since there’s nothing more inherently New Yawk in musical terms than a twitchily danceable mutant punky-disco-party-tune it’s really quite a smart career on the part of T.H.A.A. to pay homage to their hometown musical heritage right out of the gate. 

Not to mention “Love Bomb” is a great kiss off song and that's very NYC toobut one that’s not so much about “creeps in the street” (see above) as it's about the creeps we all carry around in our pocket these days, like pick-up-artist wannabees who bombard potential victims with digital bum crumbs of approval and affection until suddenly withdrawing if-and-when the conquest is achieved (“first off, you blow up my phone / but in a month, you’ll leave me all alone”).

But the song’s narrator is clearly too astute to fall for such cheap tactics (unlike over at @thedelimag where we gladly accept transactional praise!) and instead turns the tables on her love bomber (“so in the meantime, I’ll take what you can give / train you like you’d do me, if I gave in”) which is clever (love bomber, bomb thyself!) and also clever because the majestically-adenoidal NYC-accented call-and-response overdubs make for a nice callback to classic empowered ‘60s girl group anthems except updated for the iPhone Generation. 



And speaking of updating, the Heart Attack-Acks also have a new Christmas single out called “No Sleigh Bells Tonight” and yes I know I know Christmas is over already but hey you’re well within your rights to play Christmas music up 'til New Year’s Day at least just like people keep their trees for that long so why not. And the song itself will get you back in that Santa spirit from the moment it hits you with a Motown-style bass line and some sleigh bells too in the intro (see what they did there!) soon going on to evoke a Phil Spector Christmas Album kinda vibe (peep that “Be My Baby” beat!) while lyrically dispensing with all this “Birth of the Messiah” business and instead rightfully focusing on the true meaning of Christmas just as God intended, which involves a mixture of devastating bone-chilling loneliness, forlorn romantic pining, and, quite possibly, murder (ok I’m inferring the latter, but Phil Spector!) all set to a jaunty sleigh-worthy beat. (Jason Lee)





Hot tracks/Hot takes: The Down & Outs

HOT TRACKS/HOT TAKES: The Down & Outs released three singles in 2021, a triptych that pretty well summed up the experience of living through 2021 or they did for me at least (see "Free Assocation" section below). These three songs, self-described as the beginning, middle, and end of D&O Chapter Two, mark a transitional, exploratory phase for the post-punky power trio—and who doesn’t identify with the whole “transitional phase” thing these days ammirite?—a triptych which taken together makes for an attractive mantelpiece display or stocking stuffer for Grandma!

FREE ASSOCIATION: The sound of pent-up energy released. Then pent-up again. Then dissected and stitched back together Ed Gein style. Then revivified via electrical-current Bride of Frankenstein style. (“She’s alive! She’s alive!”) White knuckle fight-or-flight response. Frantic. Volcanic. A danceable panic attack. Built up by deconstruction. Minimalist maximalism. Intimacy from a distance. A remote Zoom call broadcast from the inside of someone’s skull to the inside of your skull. (see Brainstorm trailer below)

SONG ONE: “Last Party On Duke Street”
Release date: 16 April 2021
Duration: 2:58
Lead-in: the sound of muted guitar string scraping like someone trying to dig out of a Turkish prison cell
Groove: mid-tempo strut
Freak out begins at: 0:41
Breakdown and/or breakthrough section begins at: 1:57
Lyrical daily affirmation: “You’re so cool and everybody loves you / loves the way you make the feel”

SONG TWO: “Jealous//Unreal”
Release date: 10 September 2021
Duration: 5:57
Lead-in: the sound of New Order’s drum machine after a rough night out
Groove: looping loping Krautrock
Freak out begins at: 0:39
Breakdown and/or breakthrough section begins at: 1:54
Lyrical daily affirmation: “If you love me so / why don’t you show it?”

SONG THREE: “White Hot Heat”
Release date: 12 November 2021
Duration: 2:43
Lead-in: Jimi Hendrix joins Death Grips
Groove: Jah Wobble circa PiL
Freak out begins at: 0:01
Breakdown and/or breakthrough section begins at: 1:34
Lyrical daily affirmation: “No thoughts, no pain, no dreams in here”

FiNAL PRESCRIPTION: Take two (or all three!) songs on an empty stomach, washed down with a shot or two of ouzo, and don’t call me in the morning. Because you’ll be out cold for most of the day, most likely dreaming about Christopher Walken crawing inside of your mind, which is really just exactly what you need innit? (Jason Lee)





Alt Rock

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cryspot
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