Search - Blonde Redhead :: Misery Is a Butterfly

Misery Is a Butterfly
Blonde Redhead
Misery Is a Butterfly
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1

The band's gently mournful economy of style is adorned by a cinematic breadth of instrumentation and by arrangements of rich depth. "Misery..." is a creative leap forward from their last album, "Melody Of Certain Damaged L...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Blonde Redhead
Title: Misery Is a Butterfly
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 1
Label: 4ad / Ada
Release Date: 3/23/2004
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Styles: Indie & Lo-Fi, Progressive, Progressive Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 652637240924, 766487088145


Album Description
The band's gently mournful economy of style is adorned by a cinematic breadth of instrumentation and by arrangements of rich depth. "Misery..." is a creative leap forward from their last album, "Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons".

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CD Reviews

A defining moment for them
Cary S. Whitt | Columbus,Ohio USA | 04/16/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"You know those records that catch a band at their peak? The ones that come around where the planets are aligned and all is right in your world? It has happened to a lot of artists: Pavement's - Crooked Rain Crooked Rain, U2's - Joshua Tree and even something like Blur's - Parklife. Now I'm not comparing Misery is a Butterfly to those, just simply drawing a look to what is happening with the latest Blonde Redhead release. I really feel that this record is what they've been striving to achieve for some time now, the timing is indeed right. The planets are lining up and the music snobs are coming around as well.It is a beautiful record. The arrangements are lush the vocals are unique and well-mixed. The lyrics are thoughful and engaging. One can sense the craft that went into such a piece of work. My favorite tunes off Misery are the first two. Esp. the haunting, The Messenger, it has such style and grace, you'll be hooked from the opening bars. It is hard to classify this record into a genre - but if I had to do it, I would throw it somewhere in the arena of lush-indie. The strings they use are more present and they really sound great throughout. They switch up singers to a nice flow. They use classical breaks and bridges one might find at an opera. There are a lot of things going on, all good."
An acquired taste, but quite rewarding
Christopher Nieman | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/23/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I knew nothing of Blonde Redhead before I read a music review in a local free paper this year, and it interested me enough to visit the label's website and try an MP3 of the title track to this album. I went out and bought the album, and what a pleasant discovery it was.

Blonde Redhead is composed of Kazu Makino and twins Amadeo and Simone Pace. They create a sound often compared to Sonic Youth (especially their early, more unstructured sound), but since this is the only full album of theirs I've heard, I can't help but compare them with Radiohead.

Probably BR's most eclectic part, and some would argue their weakest link, is their vocals. If you remember the first time you heard Radiohead's Thom Yorke or Jane's Addiction's Perry Farrell, or even Geddy Lee of Rush, some vocalists are at first challenging to the ear, and then become rewarding over time. The often whiny vocals of Amadeo Pace and Kazu Makino's breathy, narrow range certainly fall into that category. But like the other vocalists I mentioned, if you listen further you'll find their vocals suit the music quite well in their own way. Pace's vocals have an honest, charming style with more than a tinge of angst, while Makino has a disarming, ethereal, atmospheric style that really sets off their moodier material.

And this album is quite moody. It's where the comparisons to Radiohead become evident. The theme of this record is framed around the band's turmoil of the last few years, after Makino was seriously injured in a fall from a horse, and the Pace brothers decided on an unofficial, semi-working hiatus while she recovered. The camaraderie between the Paces and Makino is made crystal clear in recent writeups of the band -- all three believe they have something wonderful together and nothing was going to keep them from making music together. This album is essentially a tribute to their own mutual friendship.

On the first song of the album, "Elephant Woman," Makino sees herself as disfigured from her accident like the Elephant Man, inside and out, even remarking defeatedly, "Now inside and outside are matching." Straight afterward, "Messenger" has Amadeo saying, "Somewhere in your mind, you know you're doing fine." These songs set the pace for the album -- Makino in pain, wondering if recovery is possible, with Amadeo (and implicitly, Simone) keeping vigil, unable to help fully but staying by the side of their friend.

The title track, "Misery is a Butterfly," is rightly the album's centerpiece, set off by a surreal ensemble string arrangement, Amadeo's rhythm guitar, Simone's syncopated drums, Makino's keyboard melody and her spooky, affecting vocal, all contrasting brilliantly together like a threatening sky. It's one of those songs that stays with me for hours after listening. It is one of the best songs I've heard all year.

"Anticipation" is another clear album highlight, dark and brooding and yet somewhat hopeful, with a seductive, whispery vocal by Makino. As with the title track, this makes clear that Blonde Redhead's strengths lie in the strange contrasts of darkness and light, a moody approach reminiscent of Radiohead's masterpiece OK COMPUTER.

After the refreshingly bouncy (yet oddly themed) track "Maddening Cloud," there's "Magic Mountain," named after the Thomas Mann novel. But it's Haruki Murakami's NORWEGIAN WOOD that I think of, vividly, as I listen to "Magic Mountain," hearing Makino seemingly vocalizing the despair of the character of that great novel, looking plaintively at her life from a mountain refuge.

The album ends with an upbeat, loose, somewhat punk-style track, "Equus," which is supposedly a message of forgiveness to horses, but sounds to me like Makino thanking her patient bandmates with the line, "Allow me to show you the way which I adore you." It's an appropriate end to an eclectic, emotionally honest collection of music. The album isn't all brilliant, but at its best, it can soar in the stratosphere. I look forward to their future music. Three and a half stars."
Soundtrack to a bad memory
Rubin Carver | Gilbert, AZ USA | 08/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Blonde Redhead is one of many bands I found on various 'so you want to get into indie' lists and downloaded essentially at random. Now I must state in advance that I am no afficionado in regards to the styles of music this fairly vague genre encompasses, and that I also have not been very impressed by most of the bands I have heard. However there can be no mistake... Misery is a Butterfly is beautiful music.

This album is designed to hit nerves, hard. Every melody is crafted with intent and deliberation, and the progressions are largely orchestral in nature - many moments in this album bring to mind the melodramatic chord pivots of pieces written by Beethoven. Amadeo's voice conjures Thom Yorke post-back alley beating, crying for mercy and a little humanity, please. Kazu's voice provides a ghostly, exhausted alternative to the self-absorbtion of Amedeo. They work in concert beautifully.

Almost any song on Misery is a Butterfly could be considered a highlight without much of a stretch. It opens with the deeply sentimental, meloncholic "Elephant Woman," which brings to mind all the saddest moments in a Benji film. The longing rhodes piano and tentative, loping snare drum of "Melody" is a haunting, cynical look through an old shoebox of things you forgot about long ago and maybe didn't want to remember. "Falling Man" is another highlight (but where are the lowlights?), with one of the most bent tearjerk melodies in recent memory. "Doll Is Mine" is the furious protest of someone who is obviously far too disadvantaged to do anything about what is plagueing them. "Maddening Clovd" is clearly the climax of this record, although not necessarily the last good song; It provides a high energy, hopeful beam of light at the end of the tunnel. Even against the brutal melody, the pace of the song seems to suggest "we're still gonna try our best!"

A highly recommended album for any fan of indie, alternative rock, or any emotionally impactful form of music. A little sentimental, yes, but that's not inherrantly a bad thing, and this album is evidence of that. Indie seems most likely to be a downhill journey for me from here."