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PERPETUAL CHANGE — The Shondes “My Dear One” CD review

| May 10, 2010
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shondes_cdA press release for The Shondes new album My Dear One (released May 4th), set the tone of the project pretty succinctly: “Heartbreak sucks, and while ‘My Dear One’ explores this in depth, the songs also explore questions about how each of us deserves to be treated, and how we should treat each other.”

Brooklyn, New York based The Shondes were originally featured in this column in May, 2007. The band consists of Louisa Solomon, lead vocals and bass; Elijah Oberman, violin and vocals; Temim Fruchter, drums and background vocals; and new guitarist Fureigh, who also adds background vocals.

“Shonde” is a Yiddish word meaning disgrace, shame, or outrage. Considering that the band has Jewish members who are also transgendered — well, they’ve taken a word normally used as a put-down and/or insult and have turned it into something of pride.

The Shondes released their first album, The Red Sea at the beginning of 2008. It was while on tour in support of this project that events happened that laid the foundation for a new album, and ultimately new relationships. It was while the band was in Miami, Florida that original guitarist Ian Brannigan suddenly left the band.

Bands are like families, where the actions of any one individual can have severe, far reaching consequences on everyone else. So it was for The Shondes, and in particular Ms. Solomon.

The album’s title track specifically speaks of how it feels when the loneliness of a break-up starts to set in:

shondesMy Dear One
Last night I almost flew to you
My 6th floor window with a view
I never knew God to live in the traffic and the scaffolding
I used to think that I could dust off anything
Finding gems in wreckage my speciality
Patiently day one, patiently day two
Day three, patiently for you
(chorus)
Is the fault line true
I wonder if it runs to you
Is the fault line true
I wonder if it runs to you, dear one
(v2)
With baited breath, a step toward my earthquake
Nobody makes me wait
Apparently I’ve come undone
I want to bust the concrete open
I want to mine for the warmth you left behind
I used to live for unearthing the sweetness nside
Patiently day one, patiently day two
Day three, patiently for you
(repeat chorus twice)
Tag
If your love is truly gone
Then I would rather be with God, my dear one.

Musically, the track has an almost old world music hall feel, with a good hook, and an excellent violin solo which is to the point and not overbearing.

Another stand out track is Lines And Hooks. Musicially, the band heads towards a jazz/progressive frame of mind with some of the best musicianship on the project. Lyrically, it goes far beyond mere heartbreak with lilnes such as:

Lines And Hooks
…I don’t know how you sleep at night
You weren’t built to sustain a fight
You do what you’re told, then give up and fold
Done, I’m done
Lines and hooks they come so fast
They draw blood but they don’t last
With my poison ivy I can open anything
I am done, I am done
And if you ever want me again, I suggest you run
Drag you out, crack you open
Show you sun,throw you in, is this your first drowning?

Violinist Elijah Oberman also does lead vocal duty on two songs, The Coming Night, which sounds very 1970s English rock, and All The Good Things, which is one of the fullest sounding production moments on My Dear One.

In The Coming Night, Oberman sings of how a break-up affects not only romance, but also what was thought to be a lasting friendship:

The Coming Night
I sit in my room, hear the trains crying out
How can I say you were here and now you’re not
Take a shovel and dig till you’re sore
Take the work and the sweat till you’re sure
It’s done and nothing can make it undone
You can curse the grass, curse the breeze, curse the sun,
But you can’t run from the coming night, You can’t will there to be light
(chorus)
I drop my anchor down
How can I leave this place now
How can I leave this place now
I drop my anchor down

Oberman’s other lead vocal on All The Good Things, is also on another of the album’s best productions. Once again, a song about broken friendship:

All The Good Things
Tonight, I just want to let the pain come
I don’t even want to win
I’m too tired to do what I’m so used to
Just grit my teeth and bear it…I stand it
Duck my head to the storm and I weather it
How did I get here again?
How can I fight this again?…I try to
…I could drown like this
Go under this dispair that makes
That pulls me and rips and always shapes me
Please stand up, please just look alive

The album’s longest tune, Miami is also the most rock tune on My Dear One. Vocally, Solomon gravitates between out right anger and mellowness. This is her most dynamic performance on the project. Just a partial look at some of the lyrics and you get a real feel for Solomon’s anger:

Miami
Did you leave me on Venice Beach
Or in a parking lot in D.C.
I cannot quite make sense of what happened here
All the places I gave you hot, hot tears
Well, I guess I ran home to become a man
Funny how isolation does that…
…(chorus)
Where you too weak to stand and face me
I never knew you could be so cowardly
Why don’t you step up and hit me, hit me
I never knew you could be so cowardly
Now I’ll always be stuck in Miami…
…in a small and vacant voice
that I don’t recognize
he said I’m not in love with you anymore
You’re not the thing that I was looking for
It’s your desire, the smell of jasmine on your skin
It’s so cloying, it really makes me sick
In Seattle, in Boston, all the places that we’ve been
I’m never gonna go anywhere with you again

Perhaps My Dear One begins to come full circle with one other song, You Ought To Be Ashamed, which seems to show the beginning of the healing process with lyrics such as:

You Ought To Be Ashamed
There’s got to be a way
To say you just bailed
You ran away
And it’s never gonna be okay
I thought that we were in this together
But now you’re gone
The gravity of absence,
The black hole we must live with
I never say this, but I really mean it
You ought to be ashamed

Over all, My Dear One is The Shondes album of teen angst for adults. But it goes beyond hurt and lonliness-the music and lyrics suggest the beauty of renewal, even when it’s slow to come. Louisa Solomon’s voice is often reminiscent of Natalie Merchant, but can also go into the higher register of Kate Bush when she wants to.

Musically, My Dear One has a genre’ shifting feel. You’ll find everything from the aforementioned old world music hall feel, to surf punk, to jazz, rock, progressive, and even a slight hint of alt country. This is true of both the musicianship and the vocals. The playing is often subtle and the listener has to really pay attention at times to hear all the nuances behind the voice. But it’s worth the effort because The Shondes are one of those rare bands who will never leave you feeling bored.

Next month, we’ll post an inteview with The Shondes Ilijah Oberman. Check out
www.theshondes.com, with links to their presence on MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook. Both of the band’s albums are available through amazon.com )

ALSO THIS MONTH…

Roger Anthony Yolanda Mapes has a recently published interview in the pop culture blog Deep Dish
Roger is also in a new movie entitled What’s The Name Of The Dame? but that’s all the information we have at this time on this project.

More Calpernia Addams music/live performance videos on YouTube — Cal singing Paint and Spank My Booty at UNREAL.

As always, thanks for your indulgence.


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Category: Music

Pam Degroff

About the Author ()

Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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