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Charming Hostess


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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars My first ever Charming Hostess' album was their Tzadik-released "Sarajevo Blues" almost shocking collection of sad songs in part based on Bosnian war-time poet lyrics with Balkan folklore elements and downtown punk sharpness. I fell in love with the band after that album.

Their debut "Eat" came to me second. Aerial and quirky mix of excellent a Capella female vocals, deep bass, sax,violin,flutes,Eastern European/Jewish/Latin folklore mixed with always melodic post punk radical elements,everything played and recorded at the highest possible level! 14 quite short compositions with often shocking lyrics mostly in English (but in Spanish and one of Slavic languages as well), Balkan rhythms, klezmer light flavor and strong West Coast harmonies! Yes, from now I know I really love this band!

One of the best American RIO album I ever heard! Should attract wide circles of listeners (unless you're allergic to folklore in your music or some radical lyrics).Very recommended.

My rating is 4,5 rounded to 5!

Report this review (#378689)
Posted Wednesday, January 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars I searched up "Charming Hostess" after searching around and learning more about one of my favorites "Sleepytime Gorilla Museum". The core of SGM: Carla Kihlstedt (vocals), Dan Rathbun (bass- some of his very best bass), and Nils Frykdahl (guitar and other stuff) are here, but this is noooooo SGM album. The main writer in this band is Jewish American Jewlia Eisenberg (Most Jewish name ever. The Jew is even in the name. I can make that remark. I'm Israeli. I win.). You can hear Jewlia likes reaching to her roots, and the roots of others. This album is very strongly influenced by world music, in particular: Klezmer, Samba, African music, and much more. There is also a very funky groovy feeling to this album, and a bit of a punk energy as well (the band calls itself funk-punk). To say this is Avant-Prog? No not really. It is just a very fun very well made and very smart album.

The lyrics are also very important here. The songs are also sung in English, Spanish and Bulgarian, possibly a few other languages are hidden here. Obesity, sex, mysticism, some socialist remarks (those Commies!), are topics here, very strange mix. They are very empowering and many times hilarious. In songs like "The Laws Of Physics"- I was almost on the floor. "I will smash you with my weight/ a skinny skinny boy is dead". Awesome.

Highlights in songs: "Dali Tzerni"- man what a freaky song. The few very obvious avant moments hear. This freaky klezmer wind section sounds like they're lying on the floor and an extremely obese man is constantly sitting on them and getting up again every few seconds. One hell of an opener. "Laws Of Physics"- as I said hilarious. "Mi Nuera" is an awesome freaky Samba songs with exemplary performance by the Hostesses (the three lead singers including Jewlia Eisenberg). "Ferret Said" is a funky folky song about homo sexuality, which is also rather hilarious. "Klezsex"- awesome, definitely should be checked out. "Elenke" some freaky cross between South African music and Eastern European classical. Probably my favorite on the album.

The few slower moments here are at times a bit weaker, though there are some great quiet songs ("Give Him A Little Time" is a beautiful song). "Mi Dimandas" could have had more variety. The song is all vocal harmonies by the Hostesses, and while all three are incredible singers (really just wow) the song is a bit tedious. "Oh Julie" suffers of the same faults unfortunately.

A few words on the musicians: Dan Rathbun's bass playing is the best I've heard him do- varied, groovy, interesting and powerful. Jenny Scheinman gives some great moments here on violin, add a very different flavor to the music. Wes Anderson is a great drummer who adds some very cool grooves, need to hear more from him. Nils is less featured here- and that's unfortunate. His voice (I've stated it many times: the best voice for metal, ever, and top 3 best vocalists of all time) is not heard hear except in the last song: "When Jesus Christ Was Here On Earth", where it's an a-Capella. Vocals though are definitely not a problem "the Hostesses" (one of them being SGM's Carla Kihlstedt) offer great vocal harmonies and all three of them have great voices.

A definite seal of approval by me (and you know that means a lot). 4 stars this album gets. Get it if your a fan of world music.

Report this review (#451058)
Posted Sunday, May 22, 2011 | Review Permalink

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