Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Betty Black - "Spring Blossoms"/Kudu - "Let's Finish" & "Physical World"

Kudu's 2006 Death Of The Party is an album that remains in constant rotation for me and is often played on those weekend nights when I'm getting ready to go out to a party or dancing. With some booze and company, it could almost be a fitting substitute for a night out if you decided to stay in, as it's already a practical journey through NYC's underground with electronic nods to ESG and Blondie thrown in. Even though the album has nicely filled a niche in my life, like most artists that I enjoy I'm usually left clamoring for new material. It now appears that 2011 will see my wishes come true as they are slated to release a follow-up album under their new moniker Art World Killer, but not before vocalist Sylvia Gordon churns out a trilogy of EPs as her alter ego, Betty Black.

Part of what makes Kudu/Art World Killer so unique is the diversity of Gordon, who seems to be one of the few contemporary female vocalists that uses Siouxsie Sioux as a reference point. On "Spring Blossoms," which will be on the upcoming Slow Dance, Gordon continues to retain the Goth stylings that influenced her youth to an enchanting and subdued use. The sound of Betty Black is centered around 50's girl groups and meant to evoke David Lynch films, according to Gordon, and that description is pretty spot-on. The relative sparseness of songs such as The Shirelles' "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and The Ronettes' "You, Baby," along with countless others from that era, have their blueprint all over this track, but with an added tinge of darkness.

"Spring Blossoms"

To listen to more songs from Betty Black, head on over to her Bandcamp website. Slow Dance will be released through iTunes on June 28.

Another reason why Death Of The Party has never been far from my mind is because I think that Sylvia Gordon is one of the sexiest vocalists around. I say this not based on looks, but on the aura she gives off through the speakers. It's the kind of sensuality that doesn't beg you to pay attention to it, but it is always there, lurking and grinning, leaving little doubt what its intentions are. There are several moments like this on Death Of The Party, but the one that's been taking up my attention more recently comes on "Let's Finish" when she determinedly delivers the line "Do you live alone?" to a potential paramour. The implication is obvious, but thanks to the breathy, slow-building narrative of the first verse, there is still plenty for me to imagine.

"Let's Finish"

Click here to download.

"Physical World" finds Gordon in a more playful mood, but there are still inklings of carnality in the air. It closes out the album and is a switch up from the throbbing beats that came before it as it adopts a whimsical Dixieland feel. As I'm recalling the first time I came across this album years ago, I believe that this song might have been the moment where I went from digging this group to anticipating quickly what they would they do next.

"Physical World"

Click here to download.

To buy Death Of The Party from Amazon, click here.

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