The Perfect Disguise (perfectdisguise) wrote in emoreviews,
The Perfect Disguise
perfectdisguise
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MadMan Mike says

Calling All Kings & Queens: A Mr. Lady Compilation
Various Artists
Mr. Lady Records
Rating: 245 out of 360


Ask any cool 2nd grader about force fields, and you might just get an explanation about how an effective force field can guard against any sort of attack, be it with fists, swords, laser guns, etc. I know that as an eight year old, I often employed this device when I needed to take a break from an onslaught of Ninja Turtle training sessions. Eventually, though, I grew up, and I made peace with my friends for good, so there was no longer a need for such techniques of defense. I left the force fields, superpower tablets (SweetTarts), and my foam nunchucks behind, and entered something resembling a life in the real world.

I sometimes wish feminist rock music would do the same. When I picked up this disc, I was well aware that it might contain some stuff that would act as a force field and make me feel like a horrible, dominating white boy. Sorry, I dont care if an album is great; if it makes me feel horrible when I listen to it, Im not going to want to listen again. However, I noticed that there were tracks included from Sleater-Kinney and Le Tigre, so I figured that it would be worth the fight I might have to put up.

From the first track, Calling All Kings & Queens is all about the music. The group California Lightening kicks the whole thing off with Lugosi, a song which rocks, and rocks comfortably. By the time I was halfway into the second track, Le Tigres Sweetie, my discomfort had been replaced by the delightful lo-hop noises surrounding a song that could have been popular in the 50s.

Amy Ray puts up the first opposition to my white male-dom with a song about the inherent chauvinism of the music industry. I admit, its a little weird hearing the word boner in a song, but her proficient performance made up for most of the discomfort I felt. If anything, it was surely better than Trickys non-stop whining about record companies, which has been going on for, what, four releases now?

It wasnt long before I got to the Sleater-Kinney track, a live version of Ballad of a Ladyman. Singer Carrie Brownsteins voice has a magical way of cutting through any presuppositions one might have about a three girl rock band with no bass. Two other bands on the disc evidently use the same no-bass strategy, and consequently turn out sounding a lot like Sleater-Kinney. The more pleasing case of this is the band Oriflamme, with the song, My Own Private Ryan. The Butchies, Heart Beats Red and Origami also contribute notably good pieces to this compilation.

There are a couple other instances during Calling All Kings & Queens that made me feel just a little funny. The Sleater-Kinney written number, Im Not Waiting, performed by Kiki & Herb, comes off sounding like a joke, and not a good one. Later, PME puts down some really interesting music so that the lovely Ms.(ter) Vaginal Davis can turn the whole thing into a terrible Rocky Horror shit heap, falsettos and all. But these two bad performances werent enough to repel me from the compilation, because the music of the other groups on the disc has universal appeal that any indie rock guy like me can appreciate.

But this appreciation was severely damaged upon hearing the last track, Gretchen Phillips detestable Eau de Lesbianism, in which she lusts over her English teacher (sweet preachy teachy), and imagines having her on the subway. The entire track is spoken over the absolute worst electronic music I have ever heard, and the metaphors, (freshly mowed lawn, succulent peaches) are horrible. A few seconds after the track ends, we hear some live stage banter which includes the line, My nipples are way more hairier. Ewww.

So I am totally puzzled. What would possess the person sequencing this disc to put such an alienating track at the very end, so to remain as the taste in an outside listeners mouth? Was someone afraid that a Limp Bizkit fan out there was going to really dig the compilation? Is the idea of selling out so bad that we have to sabotage a great collection of music in an effort to keep it real for the die-hard lesbian fans?

Calling All Kings & Queens comes frustratingly close to proving that a feminist rock compilation can be really pleasing to a universal audience, but in the last seconds, it retreats back behind that familiar force field again. The world just will have to pick up its laser guns and start firing away hopelessly for a little bit longer.
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