You feel that on Blue Willa’s release, Bozulich brings openness and a sort of focus to the expression of what could otherwise be a messy host of ideas and attitudes.
“It's a kind of an underwater post-cabaret punk rock music from the Thirties.”
Golly mick… There are times where a reasonably open attitude in listening to music can lead to some strange proposals being sent your way: this exotic hybrid is actually not that much of a free for all as it may sound; here are some pretty straight forward and attractive tracks like the clattering, hollering Fishes. And at times there’s a close affinity to things like Nina Hagen* and the suggestive, velvet plush sleaziness of Doctors of Madness, or the crazy antics of Yeti – era Amon Duul 2; the track Tambourine getting as out there into an elfin-punk dreamland as Leopold & co ever did. And despite the tendency to try out a whole gamut of music hall vocal styling, it’s by no means too scatter-brained to get a handle on.
In fact Blue Willa is pretty shit hot at times, and the girl vocalist has a pretty sympathetic voice, her charm and delivery dragging you into tracks that you normally wouldn’t countenance for long such as Birds. Better still, it’s a record that is sympathetically produced by the great Carla Bozulich, whose wonderful music is nigh on impossible to describe without sounding like a pretentious divvy. You feel that on Blue Willa’s release, Bozulich brings openness and a sort of focus to the expression of what could otherwise be a messy host of ideas and attitudes. It’s a sharp record that functions well as an enervating take on guitar rock, (Moan is a great thrashy number), a surprisingly hippy listen or an archly preening art-punk cabaret. Take your pick.
There is a confidence to slow things down and try to balance experimentation against a recognisable melody – as on Moquette, Rabbits and the great Cruel Chain; after all it’s always safer to lead your fickle and timid audience by the hand. Though it must be said that at times the record digs in its feet and some tracks – Vent in particular, with its stop-start wailing and guitar crashes - sound like those slothful, slacker punk tracks from early Mercury Rev or even Pere Ubu at their most grumpily staid. But melody and fun is never far away on here, it’s certainly not the difficult and self-aggrandising listen that the press release sets you up for. It’s not perfect by any means (whatever that is) but it’s got something and you’d hope this is a good springboard for the band to further define their muse.
*Funny that Hagen also did Brecht’s Threepenny Opera but that’s another story.