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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Shudder to Think
Curses, Spells, Voodoo, Mooses
Dischord/Sammich Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
I can't think of Craig Wedren without picturing a Cabaret-type act: a dark stage with one dramatic white light blaring onto the face of an androgynous man. A chapeau, a feather boa, lewd gyrations and the inexplicable need to pepper German phrases in his monologues… none of these images are actual, but rather they embody the sense of over-the-top theatrics in every Shudder to Think release.

Shudder to Think is one of those mind-blowing bands that almost no one likes upon first introduction. Their eclectic (read: odd), operatic, slanted, and often noisy rock is indeed challenging. Nonetheless, when they grow on the waiting consciousness, they likely become one of your favorite bands.

In that regard, a reissue of Curses, Spells, Voodoo, Mooses could not have come at a better time. As it was their original album, it symbolically represents those first few listens when the audience is hesitant, if not a little reviled. In 1988, at the time of its release, the public may not have been ready for what Shudder to Think had to offer. The general public may still be afraid of the D.C. quartet at their peak weirdness, but fans have been given time and reason to be thoroughly enamored by their flamboyant brilliance. Fifteen years later, we want to know what we're missing.

You can't go into Curses, Spells, Voodoo, Mooses hoping for another Pony Express Record, because the foursome hadn't yet hit their stride in this original release. (For that matter, they never truly recaptured the magic of that album). Yet, high expectations should not be indefinitely cast aside, because the stirrings of madmen and erupting conspiracies are present herein. As you've come to know the ending, this re-release will show you the crucial beginnings of their storied career. With Curses, Spells, Voodoo, Mooses, they were just getting warmed up.

As a hard-edged, time traveling "Wilkommen", "A Vampire's Proposal" sounds too angst-ridden and grunge tinged for 1988, and sublimely nostalgic in 2004. Angular and punky, easily melodic and recognizable, Shudder to Think was too far ahead of their early window, though it feels like a bit of their stage presence or ethereal bite has been muted.

Like a rocket, however, the second track ("Abysmal Yellow Popcorn Wall") launches directly into the Bowiesque theatrics, Wedren's deflating vocal range, and speedy gloss. True, it sounds like a demo to something that, if recorded five years later, would have encircled you with fluid, Freudian hallucinations, but the same vision is captured at its inception.

Heights of cerebral/melodramatic glory swell in the schizophrenic "Take the Child", the darkly primal "Floating", the blisteringly breathy "Touch" and their deranged but spot-on cover of Lennon's "Imagine". Collectors will also note the inclusion of Shudder to Think's first 7" single and a few alternate takes. With Curses, Spells, Voodoo, Mooses, though, the term "collector" takes on a much different intonation, as it is likely any fan will devour the entire album as a formerly rare goldmine.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters



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