Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Funeral Dress
Shake It

Newcomer improves old-timer in songful, dissonant Ohio quartet

The guy sings high and pained, the gal mellow and forthright. Both have Midwestern twangs. The guy sounds older, but the gal dominates. The music is post-Velvet Underground droney, but the contained guitar noise never comes off as urban because it flows too smoothly--there's not enough conflict or racket in it. Also, bands that indulge their noisy sides are never this tuneful, even when they try. The gal is Lisa Walker, an unknown who won't be. Her songs of love and existential displacement are delicate, proud, complex--try "Motorcycle," in which she itches to get out of town without a helmet. The guy is Chuck Cleaver of the Ohio band Ass Ponys. Always a little twisted, he thinks about such things as a human-brained horse and what kind of wrench fits a lead pipe cinch--try "Yellow Cotton Dress," in which he'll never clear the silverware she left behind. They're an unlikely seeming pair. They fit perfectly.

Blender, Apr. 2006