What's New
 Colet and
  What Music?
Banned Books
About Me
 Hosted By:
Ex Libris
Green Man
Video Vista
Designed for
 1024 X 768
 and Internet
Craig's Music Club
Music CD Recommendations

Spotlight on: Hidden Vagenda by Kimya Dawson

Cover of Hidden Vagenda by Kimya Dawson Kimya Dawson, Hidden Vagenda

Originality makes life very difficult for reviewers because it makes us have to come up with our own new ideas. No longer can we dip into our cache of pet phrases to describe a piece of music that sounds like another piece of music.

Kimya Dawson's Hidden Vagenda is the latest album to invert my world. It is almost completely unlike any other folk rock I've been hearing while somehow remaining entirely familiar. With the Moldy Peaches (her band with Adam Green, who cameos on the intro to "Anthrax") on indeterminate hiatus, Dawson has been recording solo album after solo album to increasing fame and acclaim (Hidden Vagenda was chosen by Entertainment Weekly as one of the top 25 most anticipated albums of autumn 2004).

For good reason, too, because can this woman write! Equal parts political ("Fire") and personal ("It's Been Raining"), and always surprising (check out that machine-gun delivery on "5 Years"), antifolk poster girl Dawson is one artist who is not hesitant to put her whole self on record. And her skill at recording those ideas, along with her ability to know how to approach a song (whether just her and a guitar -- "Lullaby for the Taken" -- with another singer -- -- or accompanied by a full chorus -- "I Will Never Forget"), is remarkable.

She is not afraid to whisper ("You Love Me") or yell ("I Will Never Forget") as necessary, or of a repetitive rhyme scheme. "Viva la Persistence," for example, is a call for reason hidden within a joyous little pop ditty with Jack Dishel's brushing drums where the rhymes just go on and on. (Check out some of the lyrics below.) And "Anthrax (powerballad version)" -- another rendering of a song from her album My Cute Fiend Sweet Princess -- is more moving that it has any right to be. Her choice of the power ballad (complete with an electric guitar solo from Scott Loving) is perfect for the weight of the message (the events following September 11th). "I Will Never Forget" is also surprisingly powerful for a track that stars both a toy piano and a full chorus.

There is nothing close to boredom to be found at any point during Hidden Vagenda. Each song's style is different from the last while retaining a flow. (The sudden beginnings and endings of several of the tracks on this CD make the album feel like Dawson make a cassette of her feelings -- complete with clicks -- just for our personal listening.) Some songs are melancholy, other are hopeful, but, like in all things, the best ones are a combination of both. And any album that name-drops both Julian Lennon and Scott Ian and has understated cameos from Vanessa Carlton and Stephan Jenkins simply needs to be heard.

Lyric Selections from Hidden Vagenda:

From "Viva la Persistence"

Here's a simple dissertation
On a complex situation
Money and intimidation
And mass graves make strong foundations
For the giant corporations
That own all the TV stations
Telling us to take vacations
To their big theme park plantations

From "Anthrax (powerballad version)" (full lyrics here)

The air ... is filled with computers ... and carpets ...
Skin and bones and telephones and fi-le cabi-nets,
Coke machines, firemen, landing gear, and cement.
They say that it's okay but I say don't ... breathe ... in.

Click on the links above to purchase any of the items mentioned, or use the search box below to find what you like.

In Association with Amazon.com

(Or just email me and let me know what you think.)