Great American Gingerbread
Filthy Bonnet Co
Rasputina is one of those bands that seem to have an endless bounty of inspiration. Singer, songwriter and head cellist Melora Creager consistently creates not just great music, but great art. Everything surrounding Rasputina is executed with a thoughtfulness that’s rarely found in the music industry. Take their latest release, Great American Gingerbread, a collection of rarities and demo tracks. Most bands slap these things together for a quick buck, but not Rasputina. Instead fans are treated to a beautiful and really interesting compilation of songs.
In a world currently burning up with digital fever and uninterested in album artwork, Great American Gingerbread looks great. The packaging is an abstract collage of photos and drawings, but you can tell it was done with great care. I also loved that Melora explains each song, where it came from and the story behind it. Most importantly, the music here is great; every song is unique and moving in its own way.
The album opens with a completely different interpretation of the song “Gingerbread Coffin”. The title has been changed to “Puddin Crypt” (which I actually like better) and while the vocals are pretty similar, the background music is completely different, built from weird drum programs and short samples. It changes the dynamics of the song, making it seem just the tiniest bit creepier.
Great American Gingerbread jumps all around the musical landscape. Take “Do What I Do”, which sounds like a danceable children’s song. “Death At Disneyland” plucks along with a merry sweetness until the savage distortion shows up to slap you across the mug. I loved “Children’s Reform Center”, an instrumental that walks the thin line between a mysterious gothic dance and the opening credit music for any Tim Burton film.
One of the best tracks on the entire album is the cover of Ray Davies (The Kinks) “I Go To Sleep”. It’s kind of the Victor Victoria of covers as Rasputina is actually covering The Pretenders cover of the original. Rasputina’s cover takes an already melancholy song and introduces a new level of sadness through Melora’s voice and simple cello line.
Anything done by Rasputina is lifted up through Melora’s vocals. She simply has one of the best voices out there. I could listen to her sing names and numbers from the phone book and still gush like a giddy idiot. Her voice can be sweet or scary, sometimes she sounds like the narrator from Our Town decided to sing, while others she just belts the words out. You’re never sure what she’ll do but it always works, it always melts into what’s happening but still remains a strong presence.
The bonus to all this great music comes in the form of a live DVD. Shot at the Knitting Factory New York City in 2002, this is a rare treat for anybody who hasn’t seen Rasputina live. While the recorded music is always fantastic, it’s live where the band takes what they do into a new realm. Most of the songs on the DVD are off of Cabin Fever, which is an amazing album. I will admit I wished it had been a few years later so I could have a live version of “1816, The Year Without A Summer”. Great American Gingerbread is another offering from a group that has yet to record anything but perfection.
CraveOnline Rating: 8 out of 10