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Lion Fever: Lustre

Jason Thompson

Lion Fever


Label: Dim Mak
US Release Date: 2004-02-03
UK Release Date: Available as import

Imagine what it would have been like if Cher had never met Sonny Bono, and instead hung out with various punk and garage bands. Imagine, then, that she rocked her ass off, putting forth a lot of sweat and grit under the lights in various dirty bars and clubs, paying her dues in beer and cigarettes instead of cheesy movies and plastic surgery. Imagine how different life would be if Cher was a real rocker.

Imagine no more!

I can't help but feel that Lion Fever's lead singer/guitarist Jennifer Pearl (she of Lost Kids and Belle Isle) sounds just like Cher if the ass-tattooed diva was singing rock and roll. The only problem is that, well, she sounds like Cher. So, even if you imagined a world where Cher was a rocker and not "Cher", then the outcome is really no better. I listened to this EP and tried to shake the notion that Jennifer Pearl was not, in fact, Cher herself, but it was impossible. I kept expecting her to bring out the vocoder and turn one of these tracks into a dance floor smash like "Believe".

Flanked by bassist Wes Robinson and Drummer Kevin Garrison, Pearl leads her band through five blasts of psycho-garage wailing, including a cover of Gun Club's "For the Love of Ivy". The whole thing is over in just a hair above 15 minutes and all I can say is, get some damn variety, guys. I swear, all of these songs are interchangeable and none need to be heard more than once because of it. And if Ms. Pearl could just not sound like Cher, that would be a major plus as well.

The music isn't horrible, it's just that this is yet another case of a band having that same damn garage rock sound that all those other garage rock bands currently have. A dry, "live" produced sound, one snarling guitar, the drums that are pushed way up front in the mix, and the bass that is sometimes doing a lead thing or two on its own. I don't know if bands are just getting lazier these days or what, but if this is the rock and roll that's going to save us all from all the prefab pop, then I want my fucking money back. OK, I did get this disc for free, but you get the point.

If I had to pick one song out of these five that I liked head and shoulders above the rest, even though they are wallowing about in murky mediocrity, I'd go ahead and give the nod to "Everyone I Know Is Getting Famous". Or maybe not. It's seriously tough to pick anything "good" on here when Pearl is wailing away and causing a complete din against her guitar and those too-loud drums. Perhaps the best thing to do, then, would be to pick the shortest track on this disc.

If that's the case, then that would be "For the Love of Ivy". Raved-up psychobilly at its worst. Pass. OK, how about the opening song "Slave"? Sure, the monotonous rhythm and beat wouldn't be half bad if it didn't go on for more than 30 seconds. Next. "The Zoo"? Oh my, it sounds like Cher's gone on a bender and is now weeping in her vodka and tranquilizers. This band doesn't need to do slow songs. They're even more painful than the other stuff. Well, that leaves "Watch out for Spiders". Pass. No, really. It sounds like a mix between "Slave" and "The Zoo". I heard this whole album within the confines of its very first song. The rest is needless repetition.

I usually enjoy a good EP. This one doesn't even come close to being good, however. The whole existence of this band was literally a throw-together idea. Too bad it sounds like it. A serious shift in musical focus and songs that don't all sound the same are in great need here. The bottom line -- and this is truly the very bottom -- is that no one needs to waste their time listening to Lion Fever. Come back when you actually have some songs to play, guys.

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