Rock and Reprise.net

Home

Historical Archives

Review Archives

Table of Contents

Links

Contact

Album Review

LITTLE BLACK DRESS
Snow In June

Who is Little Black Dress and why are they haunting me? Could it be the mere whisp of Space Opera in two songs, or the eerie combination of any number of spacey progrock and pop artists in an atmospheric whole? Could it be the melodic beauty of certain passages followed by hiccuped and almost anti-rhythmic afterbursts? Could it be Bread-like vocals poured over Space Rock cake layers? Something is going on here and has gotten under my skin and every time I try to write about it, I get it wrong.

I want to compare Little Black Dress to a whole string of progrock bands, but cannot draw a direct line to any. They list influences like Cabaret Voltaire, The Jesus & Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, and The Cocteau Twins and leave me without a clue, having heard those bands only in little drips, if that. They also claim on their MySpace page that they play alternative/experimental/shoegaze, and I suppose that is true but forgive an old man who remembers the birth days of progrock and cannot separate it into subgenres by such labels. It is more than likely all of those, but it is progrock. Don't let the bells and whistles throw you.

The thing which really sets these guys apart from most in the genre are the melodies. There is a pop sense throughout the songs which catches the ear and makes it palatable to the less adventurous among us. Sure, the lead-in track, Makeshift Blinds, is incredibly dramatic and has that cinematic intensity to it, but it is an instrumental setup to the rocking Robin, a post-Moody Blues epic of a song complete with harmonic chorus and full backup. Step further into the pop side with End Film, a beautiful and haunting song mixing neck-deep band sound with pop chorus excellence. Put a light show behind this one. It's ready. Mute eludes me in terms of comparable sounds, but it has that folk/space aura, vocals almost folk/psych in its slow intensity and the space laid down as ethereal afterthought. Ethereal is a term which can easily be applied to the slow and easygoing Simple Kind as well, the harmonies at times a future version of The Association's No Fair At All, a classic song in its own right.

Queen is my present favorite, though. There is something downright classic in one line of the chorus (“She's the Queen of Can't Decide”) which has stayed in my head since I first heard it and won't go away. At the oddest moments, my brain clicks on the button playing that one line and it's like Pavlov's dog all over again (no, not the band, the idea). While it doesn't make me salivate, it cheers me up a bit. God knows, I could use more of that these days.

And there is the Space Opera connection, of course. Odd rhythms and minor chords permeate the fabric of both Queen and Took It---the ghosts of Space Opera's Scott Fraser and Phil White tripping around the melody of David Bullock? No, Space Opera didn't have anything to do with this, but the sound is there all the same and in my head (and, to be truthful, in my heart) I cannot help but make the association. Space Opera left us fans so much but so little that we grab onto every straw which presents itself. These are two excellent straws.

More than likely, I have confused you more than anything. I didn't mean to, but sometimes words fail me. Trust me when I say that they did not fail Little Black Dress, who put up music to match.

Did I mention these guys were from Dallas? Just down the road from Fort Worth, home of the aforementioned Space Opera. That sound I was talking about? I wonder... Available from Idol Records. Check them out.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

website counter
website counter