Album Review: To The Teeth by Ani DiFranco

Album Name: To The Teeth
Artist: Ani DiFranco
Year/Label: 2007 / Independent

Review by Amy Lotsberg Producer of Collected Sounds

This is one of my new favorite Ani CDs. She never ceases to amaze me! I seem to like every new recording more than the last. As I mentioned before, she is joined by Prince and also her former touring partner, Maceo Parker.

This CD is very funky as you might well imagine!
The song, “Freakshow” is such a freaky song that my husband came over to my computer when I was listening for the first time, and said, “What the hell is this?” and picked up the CD. He was surprised to see it was Ani. After more listens it doesn’t seem that strange anymore, but it is still very cool.

I first heard Ani and band perform the song “Providence” on her tour through here last October. It is a beautiful song and I was really disappointed when it didn’t show up on “Up Up Up Up Up Up”. But now we get it in all it’s 7 minute and 18 second glory. I happen to have a copy this song being performed at the show here and since it is engraved on my brain from over listening, this version was different to my ears, but I like it nonetheless…and you can really tell that “Prince” is contributing some of his funky style.

This is a very strong CD and I think that even in it’s odd-ness, it will grow on everyone, especially if you already like Ani’s music. This maybe isn’t a good first try for someone just getting into her though.

On the title track, “To The Teeth”, which she performed here at Midway Stadium last July (see review) she speaks (sings) of what people with guns are doing to America . “I’m gone take all my friends / and I’m gonna move to Canada / and we’re gonna die of old age.” Sounds good to me!

Posted on January 1, 2000

Track Listing
1. To The Teeth
2. Soft Shoulder
3. Wish I May
4. Freakshow
5. Going Once
6. Hello Birmingham 7. Back Back Back
8. Swing
9. Carry Around You
10. Cloud Blood 11. The Arrivals Gate
12. Providence
13. I Know This Bar

[Ani DiFranco Official Site]

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Album Review: Diabolical Streak by Jill Tracy

Album Name: Diabolical Streak
Artist: Jill Tracy
Year/Label: 1999 / Slight of Hand

Buy the CD

Review by Amy Lotsberg Producer of Collected Sounds

You are in New Orleans, it’s hot, muggy and the air still. You are sitting in a small dark theater drinking and fanning yourself to get cool. But you hardly notice because and listening to an incredible performer who is playing the piano and telling stories of death and love.

This album transports me to another place and time. It creates such imagery. Her music is a cross between ragtime, Tori Amos and a little Squirrel Nut Zippers gone mad. Her voice recalls Siouxie Sioux. Her lyrics are beautiful yet unsettling.

The CD opens with “Evil Night Together”. Which is sort of a frolicking, “let’s go out and do crimes” kind of feeling:

“I’ll hold your hand while they drag the river
I’ll cuddle you in the undertow
I’ll keep my hand on your trigger finger
I’ll take you down where the train tracks go
Let’s while away the hours
Let’s spend an evil night together”

Meanwhile the music is filled with jangly piano, a weeping violin and a strong drum beat.

The song, “The Proof” is all over this death theme. Whether it is with “her husbands hunting knife” or at ones own hands…it is quite spooky.

She moves away from the death thing for a trip to love in “Extraordinary”.

“I’ve searched the holy books and I’ve dog-eared every page
I’ve stolen secrets from the sorcerer’s own sage
I’m rendered speechless in my pretty little rage
But I’ll save one word for you…
Extraordinary.”

Then there is the other side of love with “The other Side of Pain

“The Persian rugs have gone threadbare
The waxing moon has lost its flair
The wishes drowned beneath the well
The razor blades have all gone dull.”

With song titles such as “The Fine Art of Poisoning”, “Pulling Your insides Out” and “Doomsday Serenade” you get the idea. If this is your thing I highly recommend this CD. Go ahead…spend an evil night with Jill Tracy, I dare you!

Posted on December 5, 1999

Track Listing
1. Evil Night Together
2. The Fine Art of Poisioning
3. Pulling Your Insides Out
4. Extraordinary
5. The Proof
6. Just the Other Side of Pain
7. You Leave Me Cold
8. Doomsday Serenade
9. Precursor # 7 (For a Levitation)
10. Diabolical Streak

[Jill Tracy Official Site]

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Concert: Tori Amos Alanis Morrisette in Minneapolis

Artist: Tori Amos Alanis Morrisette

Date: September 16, 1999

Opening Act: Lotusland

Venue: Target Center

City: Minneapolis, MN

Review by [Amy Lotsberg] Producer of Collected Sounds

The opening band was called Lotusland. Being that MP3.com promoted this concert, they used a lot of their bands to be openers for this tour.
These guys were good. Part Siouxie and the Banshees and part Throwing Muses…dreamy pop that rocked out occasionally. Go to their site and listen for yourself.

We were amazed that Tori was playing first, but not unhappy! We really expected to hear Alanis first, but when we heard the opening sounds of Cornflake Girl we smiled and said, “Tori? First?”

Cornflake Girl segued into “God”. What hit me immediately and what unfortunately was present all through the show is that the sound at Target Center is the worst. It was just a wall of sound. This is partly due to the fact that I don’t believe that Tori has ever played the same song the same way twice (which is a good thing). But this time it was so over-produced and messy that I could not tell which songs were being played. And I am a huge Tori fan! I own all her major releases, many singles and *shhh* a bootleg or two. But even I was stumped until I heard a familiar lyric.

his was not true of all the songs she played. She came out all by herself and did a great rendition of “Jackie’s Strength”. About half way through it she stopped playing, laughed and said, “I fucked that one up good…let’s start again…” and continued singing without missing a beat. Every applauded and laughed and all was good. She continued to amaze us with her beautiful voice reaching those high notes and making the stadium buzz with electricity.

For an Encore she did Precious Things. All I can say is, “Perfect”.

I am sorry that I cannot give a full review of Alanis’ set as we did not stay for the whole thing. You can blame my husband who absolutely despises her and felt he should chatter on about just how much he can’t stand her the entire time. It began to be less fun for me too so we left.

But we did see 3 or 4 of her songs and I thought she was very entertaining. I am writing this 3 months after the concert so I regret that I cannot remember which songs they were. I enjoyed her though, so : P on Greg!

Concert: Ani DiFranco/Maceo Parker in Minneapolis

Artist: Ani DiFranco
Date: June 3, 1999
Opening Act: Maceo Parker
Venue: Midway Stadium
City: St. Paul, MN

Review by [Amy Lotsberg] Producer of Collected Sounds

Well, it was a freaking hot day in Minnesota. If you ask me, this heat is ten times worse then our cold winters! If it had been any other performer I may not have stayed through the whole thing. But Ani rocks my socks! This is the 4th time I had seen her live and I swear this woman gets better every time!

Master of Funk Maceo (may’-see-oh) Parker opened for her. He and his band were great! We giggled at a couple of hippie-chicks that were dancing to the tunes. Then Ani came on. I had never seen her outdoors before and what a treat!

We were able to scootch our way pretty close up. Keyboardist Julie Wolf was absolutely stylin in her silver lame pants and cowboy hat. The music wouldn’t be the same without her awesome “wuka wuka” thang.

They opened with “Virtue” which is my current VERY favorite Ani tune. Greg Boyer from Maceo Parker’s group played trumpet on a few numbers and that really added a great touch.

During the first verse of “Shy” she broke a string then said, “Who ever said that a folk song had to have an acoustic guitar?” She appeared a little flustered and had one of her famous “Ani brain farts” and spaced on the lyrics but covered nicely when she said, “It does have to have a second verse though, and as soon as I remember it, I’m gonna sing it!” She did, but I think the audience helped her out!

During “Anticipate” (which I must say is the coolest version I ever did hear) the humidity was getting to her and she remarked, “It’s really hot here! I’m thinkin that Minnesota is like Florida to me.”

She sang a new song called, “To The Teeth” which is the title track of her new CD. Released November 18th, 1999.

Maceo’s son, Cory Parker joined her and rapped a song called “Sway” about how folk and rap can be as one and races can too. Very cool.

She brought out the bongos for a powerful rendition of “Not So Soft”.

For the encore Maceo Parker came out with his sax and they performed “When You Were Mine” by Symbolina or whatever he is calling himself nowadays. Ani said it was a tune written by “by a local guy”. Word has it that he appears on the new CD as well.

The people-watching was stellar! I saw my first (and I hope last) 9 year old pregnant lesbian! OK maybe she was 13, maybe…

It was fabulous, Ani rocked but I was very glad to get to the air-conditioned car.

[Ani DiFranco Official Site]