Viva la Venus ~ Forget the Fairy Tale
Date: Saturday, April 08, 2006 @ 08:06:26 UTC

Artist: Viva la Venus

CD: Forget the Fairy Tale

Home: Raleigh, North Carolina

Style: Melodic Rock

Quote: "This female fronted rock band are great songwriters, but don’t expect wimpy Sarah McLachlan sentiments."

By Jamie Anderson

In their liner notes they thank “their baggage and issues for the unending inspiration” but like a good rock band they also thank “everyone who bought us beers/shots.” This female fronted rock band are great songwriters, but don’t expect wimpy Sarah McLachlan sentiments. They aren’t your average wall-of-sound band, with amps turned up to 11 for every song. Melodic songs in gritty arrangements feature chunky guitar plus solid bass and drums that drive but don’t dominate. Wendy Brancaccio nails the vocals in most songs with a clear voice that could be pop star pretty if she was willing to stoop that low. These songs demand more emotion and she delivers it, along with the stop-on-dime musicianship of the rest of the band. Mary Anne Barckhoff lays a steady groove on the bass and also plays some tasty guitar. She doesn’t rely on cookie cutter riffs you swear you’ve heard in every tired top forty song. None of the band does – from the creative guitar chops of Susan Darney to Trey McLamb’s right-on drums, there’s nothing average about Viva la Venus.

An evil guitar lick opens the disc with “Back Alley Love Slam.” The vocals sneak in with lyrics about a stale relationship then slam in with “More, I want more.” Get it, loser? There’s another sinister guitar in “Years Gone By,” and with the almost sweet lyrics, it’s a great contrast, especially with “And I waited for you to be kind to me.” Maybe she still wants him and by the end, if you were only listening to the words you’d think it was true, but from the way the guitar blasts in, there’s no doubt. She’s done with you, jerk.

“Free” takes a different path. With jangley guitar reminicent of a good 60s pop song, it’s wistful in the beginning, but this anthem doesn’t pull any punches with its message to forget about yesterday and move on. A melodic bass drives the accusatory “Awaken,” about a controlling lover. “Never Forgive” begins with a dissonant guitar riff that makes more than one appearance in the song. Don’t let those pretty cascading notes fool you, this is another dark song that slams in with “I will never forgive you.” Never piss off a songwriter, people. “Hard to Rock” is pushed by a fat distorted guitar and no, it’s not a good-time party tune:

Nothing so easy should be so fucking hard
A boat that is sinking shouldn’t be so hard to rock ...

“Pig” takes a different, less personal direction than the other songs. About a sexual predator, it pulls no punches:

Preying on the innocent
Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?
Not a man if it fit
She was only six ...

If you don’t listen to closely to “Crush,” the upbeat guitar lick and almost disco bass makes it sound like a fun dance tune. Shake your booty anyway. It’s dark, but who says dance equals happy? “Break” is another great screw-you-I’m-gone song. The disc ends with “Nightfall,” an almost ballad with a sweet cello. It kicks up at the chorus and features some more of that creative arrangement voodoo that Viva la Venus is so good at.

Send this disc to your loser boyfriend, to your best friend who just got dumped, and of course, buy yourself a copy. Slap it on your iPod and turn it up. Give your baggage the groove it deserves.

Buy CD

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