For some reason Alice Donut reminds me of the strange indie-prog-rock group the Ex Models(1). Maybe it's just the fuck-it attitude they bring out, or maybe it's just so obviously more of a jam band than a polished studio outfit. Both of which are good things, mind. Miss Me immediately rings true to my mind, having had a recent run-in with an ex of my own not very long ago(2). "Did you miss me? I haven't thought of you at all!" is ranted from my speakers and suddenly I want to call that girl back again just to blast the song over the phone lines.
The rest of Three Sisters remains sinister and quick, moving swiftly from one to the other. Tracks aren't overdone nor overlong and are about as basic as one would expect to find in a garage band. This is the band's first release following a long eight-year hiatus from the NY punk scene, which will include both coasts of the US and Europe as well. They will close their European tour in London for the filming of London, There's a Curious Lump in My Sack. And then it's back home to the CBGB's famous venue to finish up.
Originally signed to Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles label, Alice Donut released seven albums and a buttload of singles. Among these the highlight of their career (said by many, at least), The Untidy Suicides of Your Degenerate Children, as well as Mule, Donut Comes Alive, and more. Their 1000th show was in 1996, again in London, after which they came home and disappeared for the already mentioned eight years. The music they make is pure grit and spit, truly for the hardcore fan of garage punk and loud guitars.
She Tells Me Things is an intelligent rant, highlighting the weirdness of Alice Donut's lyrics that are more surrealistic than your standard 4/4 punk fare. Intelligent verbiage combined with this surrealism puts Alice on the map as one of the strangest punk orgies of memory, both past and now. If you don't believe the surrealistic quality of the poetics that I'm blathering about, witness Running Arms in the Phillipines (happily scrawled misspelled inside the fold out jacket) "In the Bangkok sun...Down the barrel of a gun...In a case of stolen rum...I see you." What? And the twisting of "Running Arms" to "Fall in these arms" for a bit of double meaning is ingenious.
The double-edged heavy bass of Three Sisters closing track, Setting Sun, is a fine thing indeed. The guitars riff out a strange hard hitting rhythm flowing into a drunkish box score at will. Tripping from Vietnam to the stock market and empty halls of music, the song ticks off a wide range of possible ideas about its make-up. Anyones guess, really.
Garage punk at its most raw and fulfilling, even their slower ballad attempts (Cost, Up is Down, Farmers Almanac) come out gritty and sweaty. You know you have an interesting mix when a band can prove they can play well without having to play that well. Theyve already proven their point years ago and Alice Donut have nothing more to prove. They've done that already. All they are doing now is coming back after nearly a decade of a powder just to remind us that they're still alive. And fuck us if we don't like it, too.
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(1) Their Other Mathematics
release was reviewed in Legends
(2) Those of you that check in at my LiveJournal on occasion know all about this debacle