Meg Lee Chin’s reputation preceded her 1999 debut, Piece and Love. A onetime member of the industrial collective Pigface, Chin was also Garbage’s first choice for a singer (before Shirley Manson) and recorded demos for Faith No More. Chin is a rare creature in this man’s man’s man’s world; she’s not only a confident singer and songwriter in a genre that boasts few females, but she is also an able sound engineer who does her own programming and plays several instruments.
Chin’s latest release, Junkies and Snakes, mostly comprises remixes of songs from her previous effort. As one might expect from her involvement in Pigface, Chin makes music that is loud and tough, but she also displays a knack for hook-heavy choruses and a melodic flair that gives her songs an alternative-rock bent.
Of course, with this kind of music, the mix can make all the difference. It’s interesting to see how the two versions of “Heavy Scene” included on Junkies and Snakes differ. The mix by Pigface alumnus Martin Atkins (the “radio edit”) has a more typical industrial flair, with a few elements of hip-hop thrown in. The “Bag Full of Fun Mix” by Lee “Bagman” Fraser, however, is far more whimsical. Fraser nearly obscures Chin’s vocals with hyper beats and cutesy, pop keyboards, resulting in something that is almost club-ready.
The real power of Chin’s songs, however, is not in the music, but in the delivery of her hip, cynical lyrics. As Chin herself explains, “I became a singer because I have an overwhelming desire to express a lot of the pain that goes on in this world, and to express how cynical I am as a result of it.”
This worldview permeates every biting word of “And God She Created Civilization”: “She cast her eyes and clenched her face / To a great big sea of jocks and apes / Small town bullies, posers and fakes / Two-bit hustlers junkies and snakes.”
While Chin’s music isn’t for everyone, most will applaud her musical dexterity, vocal delivery, and refreshingly unapologetic attitude.
// Notes from the Road
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