This album is one of two in my current queue, both courtesy of Dig Me Out, where I’m first and foremost struck by the fact that the given artist has an artistic vision that is (i) fully formed, (ii) niche and often off-putting, and (iii) completely unique.Lisa Germano’s 1996 aptly- and greatly-titled release, Excerpts From A Love Circus, is the kind of thing that could have only seen wide distribution in the anything-goes ’90’s.It features, paradoxically, sparse instrumentation and lush arrangements with personal, expositional lyrics that are often more whispered than sung. There are strings, instruments I’ve never heard, and cats making cat noises for extended periods of time. The songs move ahead slowly and, again paradoxically, determinedly and faltering. It’s like a person wounded by love and life but moving forward putting one foot in front of the other, playing one chord after the other, because that’s all she knows how to do. There’s a song called “Baby On The Plane,” about exactly that and the trauma it causes in the nearby seats complete with screams that sound as if they were sampled from a roller coaster.
And then there’s the cats. There are three tracks with sub-tracks credited to what seems like could be Germano’s three(!) cats. And I’m sorry, but this whole woman singing about fucked up relationships and then giving a significant amount of time to her three (three!) cats, one of whom is named Miamo-Tutti(!)…it really plays into a stereotype and WHY THE HELL DO YOU HAVE THREE CATS?
I believe Germano’s most celebrated album is her 1994 release, Geek The Girl, because I think I’ve heard of that one. This seems like the phrase geek the girl ramped up to 11. I can get into some of this some of the time. But, try as I might, I can’t relate to it. At all. I can’t even relate to the guy(?) she’s singing about because she has three cats and, even beyond my allergies, that’s such a red flashing get-out-of-here light that I can’t even imagine getting to the point that I’m like going to have a relationship with this confessional songwriter. So this whole soap opera drama seems so distant and utterly avoidable that I just can’t even.
But honestly the way she takes these slow, determined, sparse songs and makes them sonic landscapes with what feels like minimal effort but obviously is very well thought out is kinda cool.
Like: “Small Heads,” “We Suck,” “Lovesick,” “Singing To The Birds”
Meh: “Baby On The Plane,” “A Beautiful Schizophrenic/’Where’s Miamo-Tutti?’ by Dorothy,” “Bruises,” “I Love A Snot,” “Forget It, It’s A Mystery,” “Victoria’s Secret/’Just a Bad Dream’ by Miamo-Tutti,” “Messages From Sophia/’There’s More Kitties in the World than Just Miamo-Tutti’ by Lisa and Dorothy,” “Big, Big World”
Song Notes: After the jump
- Baby On The Plane – screams in the background, sound as if they were recorded from a roller coaster
- A Beautiful Schizophrenic/”Where’s Miamo-Tutti?” by Dorothy – strings. starts off like nightmare on elm street boiler room scene
- Bruises – is this about physical abuse? starts with cats and fiddle. “coffee in the morning and wine in the evening and everything else is boring, boring” << so there’s that
- I Love A Snot
- Forget It, It’s A Mystery – the guitar is recorded in a distant way that makes it sound like uke/banjo.
- Victoria’s Secret/”Just a Bad Dream” by Miamo-Tutti – it’s like her cat snore-purring at the end and i don’t dig it
- Small Heads – the best one, and also the most accessible and radio friendly and all that
- We Suck –
- Lovesick –
- Singing To The Birds – oh maybe this is the best one.
- Messages From Sophia/”There’s More Kitties in the World than Just Miamo-Tutti” by Lisa and Dorothy – pretty boring
- Big, Big World