CD Review

Call Me Alice - Demo CD

By Marcus Pan

Call Me AliceCall Me Alice, a five-member band out of San Diego, CA, are successfully combining a tantra-like vocal element with an old-skool sound. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of a limited-pressing demo CD from this quintet - mine is labeled #19 out of 500. The CD case and CD was strangely labeled "Exhibit A." In fact, their press kit is created in the form of a "Case Report" of illegal activities complete with incident reports highlighting their appearance at the Worldcon "cyberconcert." Held at "Stonehenge,," the "cyberconcert" was a 5 day event that allowed the Internet community to hear, see and interact with various bands such as CMA. The press kit itself, with its case reports and examples of "investigations" surrounding the actions of Call Me Alice, was quite ingeniously concocted. Included are descriptions of the five band members; Guignol (guitar), Epiphany (bass), Crosby (vocals), Jude (keys) and The Thrawn (percussion). The personality descriptions included with the overviews of these five "currently under observation" were quite entertaining. Nothing like a good press release.

The band combines, as I said, tantra-like vocals (compliments of Crosby) that are erotic and sexy. The musical instrumentation surrounding Crosby's sultriness are simple and bass-heavy. There are no screaming guitar licks, no overdone samplings and no super-synthy overtures. Instead the music is simple and enjoyable and allows Crosby to seduce you - just in case the included photo in her "case file" hasn't done so already (oh those eyes!). Don't like eyes? That's ok - the bass is a heavy instrument in CMA's work and is wielded by Epiphany. So you can let her simple yet heavy, droning and overtaking bass lines seduce you. Besides, I've already decided Crosby's mine. So nyah. And let's not forget The Thrawn - his percussion lines, whether live or electronic I'm not sure of, are also simple like the other instrumentation here. It's designed to move the song allow, keep it flowing like water. All the members of Call me Alice fail to fall for that rock-star ego thing.

The demo CD contains four tracks - well, ok, seven really. But five and six are empty and seven is an ingenious metal-talk advertisement for their website. It's quite unique - I liked their ballsiness in doing that. The recording itself is lower quality - but you have to take into account that this is a debut demo release from a new band. They've been around for just about a year now, and the music itself - both in makeup and technical merit - more than make up for the shoddier nature of the recording itself. Part of the reason is the simplicity of the song makeup - it seems to make it more accessible to the casual listener. There isn't anything I'm going to shout from the rooftops about on this CD, but I'll be at least in the first five on line to get what's next from them. It's good enough to make me want more…

The four track EP demo has three songs - the fourth track is actually a remix of Electrical Jesus done by releveleR. The demo kicks off with White Walls. This song starts off with a kind of static and growling sounds - but then suddenly becomes strangely beautiful with eerie background keyboards and Epiphany's droning bass line. They could leave out the staticy beginning thing next time though. Just doesn't seem to fit - guess they just wanted to kick off their demo with a bang. Crosby croons her way into you with Jude's keys floating behind her and the work of Epiphany adding musical punctuation where necessary. Guignol handles his guitar with deep caring and doesn't succumb to the "I'm a guitarist! Listen to me!" bullshit that others never fail to supply in droves. Instead he kind of lays back - you almost don't hear him there. There's also chanting male vocals in some parts. It's hard to make out, kind of like you're listening to a conversation that you shouldn't be. Every now and then you think you make out a word or two - you're not sure. And the effect draws you in, listening for more, turning up the volume louder and louder and then suddenly Crosby is back with that sweet voice.

Call Me AliceElectrical Jesus (unmixed) is next. One of our ladies here, I'm thinking it's Crosby again, starts this wonderful…uh…moaning. It's an erotic effect. The bass again is very heavy, but this time Guignol is there riffing away. BUT - still he's laid back, the guitar licks rather holding up the others instead of jumping out in front. That caring control again, held in check and therefore giving CMAs Electrical Jesus an eerie, background sound. Finally there's Life 101, which begins with male metallic-style vocals (similar to their shameless website promotion they end their demo with). The guitars and bass have a similar style with Epiphany out in front with Guignol keeping himself in check and providing a background score. The keys are more apparent here; Jude provides a more synthy sound, although with more of a long-note holding rather than being jumpy, during the chorus. Crosby croons, "Am I looking pretty? Am I looking well? Do you want to kiss me?" Ummm…yeah.

So, the skinny on Alice? Low-key, bass-laden and a bit droney sometimes. But Crosby is skilled at vocal seduction. Epiphany's bass lines are simpler, controlled, yet heavy. Guignol doesn't fall into the head-growing guitarist ego thing and instead provides an excellent background score in support of the work of these two ladies who seem to be more in front - at least in the arrangements. Jude seems to be the anti-social one, getting as far back from you as possible. You usually only hear him during vocal breaks or supporting chorus lyrics. Thrawn moves the songs along, like a dark clad usher of notes. Both the individual instrument lines and lyrics are simple, making the enjoyment of Call Me Alice more accessible. Now all they need is a good recording facility to support them. I have to run now - I have to e-mail a marriage proposal to Crosby.

Contact Information: SpaceScape
Post: Call Me Alice, Box 83205, San Diego, CA, 92138-3205
Phone: (760) 643-0942