Mistress Stephanie and Her Melodic Cat
Are you a girl or a boy? Who can tell these days… At first I’m predisposed positively towards Mistress Stephanie and Her Melodic Cat. It’s a pretty cool vibe; I’m not saying they’re anywhere near the transcendent clatter of the Cramps, but I’ve been feeling a little glum about Lux Interior’s rocking bones so it’s just damn nice to see a couple dress up in flapper/brothel clothes (both the guy and the girl), cake on the makeup, and bash out some anti-rockist Brechtian cabaret. Quickie reference points include the Dresden Dolls, La Scala, Revue Noir, and some New York Dolls-ian “Oh Shit We Threw This Outfit Together In Five Minutes” trash-ness plus Siouxsie and the Banshees’ cheekbones. Their Weimar chops and bonafides are very much in place, beyond just renting Cabaret from the local library and having heard so-and-so’s cover of “Alabama Song” on the classic rock station.
They’re a younger band (though each has prior music experience), so classic transcendent tunes that are gonna stick in yer head as you eyeliner in yer Droog eye makeup just won’t be found. The urge to hit the ff-button does rear its ugly head, you’ve been warned. But if you stick around, you’ll get gems like “Shake Your Dance Stick”‘s iceberg-distant reinvention of Kraftwerk’s analog autobahn boogie, “Grey”‘s dramatic, theatrical piano-led sashay, letting a bit of genuine melancholy seep through the eyeliner and flapper wigs, “Little Death”‘s orchestrated, swooning mantric ROCK-BEAST/OPERA tension (reminding me of Bodies of Water’s reinvention of Jesus Christ Superstar) with melodic boy-girl tandem vocals and huge cymbal crashes, and, finally, “Johnny Gewürztraminer”‘s rockabilly-infected re-imagining of X’s “Johnny Hit and Run Pauline” — this is more like it.
The overall tone is pretentious as hell (that’s a good thing), but pretty fucking entertaining. And Stephanie’s got a superb voice and phrasing. The problem is that the sound on the record is a little thin and their songwriting chops are not rock solid yet. But I give ’em credit for keeping rock (and Austin, TX) honest and weird.
Mistress Stephanie: www.myspace.com/mistressandcat