Crystal Fairy: Crystal Fairy

A thrilling and very strong yet semi-straightforward rock album from a collection of very cool weirdos.

Crystal Fairy

Crystal Fairy

Label: Ipecac
Release Date: 2017-02-24

Melvins collaborations are generally super dope, with many highlights over their storied, grungy career. One of the songs Steven Shane McDonald from Redd Kross joined the band for, "The Decay of Lying" from Basses Loaded, is as great as any of the "classic" Melvins stuff. The Melvins honestly reward their real fans with consistently great and frequent output far more than most groups, always seeking to keep things interesting.

When news broke that Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover, and Omar Rodriguez-López would back Le Butcherettes’ Teri Gender Bender, the "buzz" (no pun intended) was instantaneous. Talk about a real underground Marvel Team Up of some of the most talented musical characters out there! Thankfully metal and hard rock have become less gendered in recent years as people like Kim Kelly or Laura Pleasants made significant strides in making sure people were focused less on who are "the hottest chicks in metal" versus equality and if the music was any damn good.

Nowadays there are fewer bands with a token lady in a skimpy outfit and more records like King Woman's stuff or the Julie Christmas match-up with Cult of Luna where there is an equal playing field, and the quality of the art far supersedes any gendered marketing. The same is the case with Crystal Fairy, where Teri is far from exploited and also ends up stealing the show a lot of the time through amazing hooks and sheer force of presence. "Necklace of Divorce" dares you not to be reeled in.

The closest we have perhaps heard to such Melvins-y glory with "female vocals" up front to such an extent would be the fantastic spooky Bliss Blood vocals on "The Man With the Laughing Hand Is Dead" from the Melvins album The Crybaby. Crystal Fairy is a much more generally up-tempo and punkier group (save for a few moments like the dirgey and bad ass "Moth Tongue") but glorified Melvins boogie rock, and thick chords abound as well. "Chiseler" is especially impressive, a furious but fun song straddling post-punk, hard rock and a little hint of Black Flag "Slip It In" vibes. Rodriguez-López perhaps lent the group a bit more melodic flirtation as well, but I can't be certain. "Drugs on the Bus" is a future classic, sure to be a live favorite for a project that could potentially erupt to become a full fledged thing rather than a side project if the participants were so inclined.

Teri Gender Bender currently has one of the more theatrical and siren-like voices in rock, almost reminiscent of a sort of third, intense little sister if Kat Bjelland and KatieJane Garside were part of Teri's family tree. Teri nails her melodies a lot harder but also can do angry, raspy, bluesy alley cat vocals as well. There is a quirky poetry and yet a riot grrrl's refusal to be ignored in her approach that lends a great push and pull between punky antagonism and distant dreamer. "Sweet Self" is borderline alt-country yet is followed by a hard charger, "Vampire X-Mas", that could get crowds pogoing anywhere. You feel like the potentially esoteric Gender Bender could replace the Pythia as the new Oracle of Delphi but might prefer to playfully dodge apples in the mean living tree forest from The Wizard of Oz.

Title track "Crystal Fairy" rocks like something off of Stag with Stevie Nicks vocals, while "Secret Agent Rat" has one of the more down and dirty intros you'll hear in 2017 before some great rhythmic weirdness in the verses. It is awesome to hear how much trust and chemistry has grown between the parties involved, seeing as how this whole thing started initially simply due to Buzz and Dale jamming on Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl" for a tour encore with Teri!

Missing from a lot of rock these days is a sense of adventure. Crystal Fairy plays to the strengths of the band members and doesn't get insanely weird but nonetheless delivers on all fronts. This is just a top notch rock album, any way you slice it.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.