Elevate Difference

Reviews by Emily S. Dunster


What things come from Australia? Lots of bitey poisonous things. The fabulous and flamboyant movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. AC/DC. Australian Toaster Biscuits (do you remember Australian Toaster Biscuits? I do. They were amazing.) The On Fires also come from Australia. Are The On Fires as amazing as Australian Toaster Biscuits? Do they wear shorts all of the time like Angus Young?

Come Over

Patty Carpenter and the Dysfunctional Family Jazz Band (PCATDFJB) are a troupe of musicians who are also family members. Singer Patty was married to saxophonist Scotty, and they had daughter (who is also the band’s other singer) Melissa. Patty and Scotty broke up, and Patty married the band’s manager, Charles, and together they had son Travis who plays bass. This album is essentially like being trapped on a couch in the living room of your new neighbors watching an endless slide-show of their family’s summer vacation.

A Guide to Picking Locks, Number Two

Full disclosure here: I have never, ever picked a lock. I suppose it would be kind of neat to know how to bust into a door with a wafer tumbler lock, but I just never have really experienced the need. An excellent parlor trick, perhaps? A desire to emulate Houdini in a daring escape from the chains of certain death?

Elevator Art

For a band working without the backing of a label, Elevator Art has crafted a disc that has the sound of a group with a fountain of money at their disposal. Sure, money isn’t everything, but I can tell you from personal experience that it makes a huge difference when you are in a small band with nothing but sad, starving little moths in your pockets and a record that needs mastering, artwork, and printing.

1,000 Years

It is kind of strange listening to Corin Tucker with a bass player, and without the backing of Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss in riot grrrl band Sleater-Kinney. Admittedly, at first I found myself missing Brownstein’s guitar chops, and the rhythmic awesomeness of Weiss. This isn’t to say that Tucker is a guitar slouch, by any means, just that Brownstein is one of the best living guitarists out there, and Weiss delivers an amazing syncopated punch that other drummers just can’t match.

Fall of Spring

Here I sit, thinking about the torrential rain and wind blanketing the eastern seaboard, and dreaming of warm kisses from the sun on a hilly bike ride in the country. I’m at work, to tell you all the truth, inside a rather chilly library (writing on my lunch break—too bleak to venture outside). My eyes move slowly from computer screen to rain-dappled window, yearning for a summer that wasn’t.


If The Locals were an item of clothing, they would be a neatly pressed pair of designer vintage “distressed” jeans—$200 pants with holes, bleach stains, and grease marks already worked in. The Locals have a crafted sound that has been tweaked and molded into a perfect pair of pre-worn pants.

A Record

A few months ago I reviewed the new record from People Eating People. Laura Stevenson and the Cans are certainly along the same sound profile—folksy female vocals with a tinge of She + Him and a pinch of Regina Spektor. As before, I ask, how can yet another folksy crew of musicians survive?

Cotton’s Queer Relations: Same-Sex Intimacy and the Literature of the Southern Plantation, 1936-1968

As Michael Bibler mentions in the introduction to Cotton’s Queer Relations, it seems impossible that there could be enough material out there to serve as the basis for such depth of criticism on an incredibly narrow topic.

Newborn Slime/White Light Split

According to the Musical Family Tree website, musician Kid Primitive was so “enchanted” by the album Newborn Slime, by Castle Oldchair, that he felt the need to “create a sister album for it.” So, here we have the two albums together, like peanut butter and jelly smashed at the bottom of your book bag. Could this be a match made in heaven?

Between 10 and 2

How do you solve a problem like TyLean? Perhaps it is her pre-occupation with nihilism, an ethos that I give about as much credit to as what Walter does in The Big Lebowski. I mean, seriously? She really believes in the ultimate worthlessness of everything?

Fool's Gold

As I sit in my Philadelphia apartment trapped again by yet another massive winter storm (if the last one was “snowmageddon” this one is more like a “snurricane”) I listen to Fool’s Gold, and dream of the warm places the band evokes. The group hails from southern California, their lead singer Luke Top was born in Israel (and sings most of the band’s songs in Hebrew).

American Gong

Did adding Joanna Bolme on bass somehow ruin the “purity” of the Quasi sound? I would suggest not. Although it would be impossible to argue that their music was thin before, Bolme’s bass adds a perfect oomph without taking away from the chemistry of the duo that already existed.

Daggers at the Moon

I’m not sure whether Vice Cooler is insane, or a genius, or an insane genius. One thing is certain: Cooler is busy. He’s toured with Peaches (there is a video of them on his MySpace page doing a very naughty version of a certain Gwen Stefani song that won’t soon leave your memory), he also has written a book, and continues to contribute to magazines like Vice and Rolling Stone.

People Eating People

So, back in the day, I was in a struggling band in Seattle. And back in that day, one of the biggest breaks a struggling band could get was getting a blurb written about them in The Stranger, the local indie newspaper (edited by none other than Dan Savage, of “Savage Love” fame). While my band was scrambling between shows, staying up way too late at practice, and generally creating plenty of VH1 Behind the Music drama, another band was stealing all of the time in The Stranger: Mon Frere.


Systems Officer reminds me a bit of Grandaddy. Of Grandaddy I have to say this: I have seen Grandaddy once, opening for Elliott Smith, and Jason Lytle (formerly of Grandaddy) once, opening for Neko Case. It is probably unfair to hold Grandaddy and Jason Lytle up to the same level of adoration that I have for the other two artists (considering I would have hurdled myself into a closet full of menstruating hornets to see either Smith or Case).

Malaikat dan Singa

The music of Arrington de Dionyso (also of the band Old Time Relijun) lies somewhere in a crazy Venn Diagram where Sonic Youth, Nick Cave (circa [The Birthday Party](http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00004T0N7?ie=UTF8&tag=feminrevie-20&linkC

People People

I want Pariah Piranha's People People to work—and it almost does. Listening to their album is sort of like eating my mom’s homemade cooking instead of something gourmet. You can tell something is missing, but you don't know exactly what it is. Oregano? No, that’s not it. Pepper? Lemon juice?

Hope Freaks

I realize I spend many of my reviews describing what bands sound like, but hear me out. I frequently haven’t heard the bands I’m reviewing before, and I kind of figure most people reading Elevate Difference probably haven’t either (many times to their detriment, may I add). So anyway, on to my review why Pre are another one of those acts I think people should pay attention to, even if they aren’t into noise rock. Pre, like Finnish salty licorice and IPA beers, is indeed an acquired taste.

New Universe

A few years back, when I was considerably less tied down by things like work, a couple of friends and I endeavored to take a road trip from Seattle to Aurora, Colorado. Something about Desolation Wilderness' New Universe reminds me about that trip. It was about 500 degrees outside, and my car didn't have air conditioning. We drove ninety-five miles an hour the whole way there and back with all four windows down.


Travis Richter and Derek Bloom from the Color of Violence are also in the band From First to Last. Confession: I don’t like the band From First to Last. There’s something about sing-songy vocals in hardcore music that just doesn’t feel right, and that’s pretty much FFTL’s M.O. For me, they’re a bit like cheddar cheese on Chinese food.

Lost Houses

The only way I could love The Curtains of Night more is if they wore my grandmother’s homemade bread as a hat. It’s like they took a Melvins super burrito and added Kat Bjelland guacamole and made the best dinner entrée ever—with maybe a Big Business tequila chaser.

Life Goes On

Linq is a little bit like the love baby of Barney and Melissa Etheridge, and I really don’t mean that in a derogatory way. If Linq played an outdoor festival and if my partner and I had kids, we would be out having a picnic dancing on the grass with our cute gaybies singing along. Yes, I said gaybies. How can you not love a song called “Diversity Dance?” Hooray for gays! Hooray for bisexuals! It doubles the dating pool! After all, a little dose of cheesiness isn’t always bad, is it?

A Chopping Block

The death of Jim Henson was probably one of the single most traumatic events of my childhood. By that time, I was old enough to realize that Kermit was created by Jim Henson, but still young enough to have a certain amount of love for Sesame Street. (Okay, I was ten, which is a bit old for Big Bird, but I was a late bloomer.) You are probably asking yourself a variety of questions at this point.

Insects Awaken

Death Sentence: Panda! seems like a ridiculous name, right? Pandas are cute. They look like plush dolls. They eat bamboo, which is, like, a totally cute plant. They are fuzzy and have paws. Death by panda sounds like it’s just about as probable as being mauled by a herd of unruly kittens. Unfortunately for us weak and easily fooled humans, all of that cuteness is a ruse. Panda teeth are actually carefully honed and specialized not for eating leafy greens, but are actually made for gnawing on human flesh.

Come with Me if You Want to Live

After listening to Goblin Cock’s new record, Come with Me if You Want to Live, I’ve decided to start my own sludge metal band. However, I’m having a few problems thinking of a name with a good female twist. Somehow the band name “Ogre Vag” just doesn’t have the right ring. At any rate, Goblin Cock’s mix of indie and metal would suffice for anyone looking for an appropriate soundtrack for a movie involving Norse mythology and lots of beast slaying.


Malian singer Rokia Traoré blends African music with European and American folk music to create a sound that is interesting, balanced, and beautiful. As someone who fits more comfortably on the metal side of the spectrum, I have not removed this disc from my stereo since I first listened to it a month ago.

Concerto em Lisboa

When I was in high school, I dreamt of having a voice like Janis Joplin; the yearning that she captured in her voice was simply extraordinary.


I have to admit, I was a bit concerned when I hit play on the first song of OOIOO’s album, Taiga. I’m not one to discredit noise as a musical form; I even own an album or two by Agoraphobic Nosebleed. However, there’s only so much “noise as art” that I can take at a time, and as the droning and incoherent screams of “UMA” came rushing into my headphones, I was seriously contemplating the ibuprofen in the bathroom cabinet. Luckily, the repetitive yelps of the first song are not present throughout, and there are some good moments.

Love Your Abuser

Ever since watching a painfully tedious music set by a man and his computer opening for the Melvins a couple of years ago in Seattle, my appreciation for music constructed with little more than a laptop has been ambivalent, to say the least. The only thing saving his computerized set was the lead singer of Melt Banana, Yasuko Onuki, who danced gleefully in an oversized rabbit suit behind his skinny bouncing corduroy-encased rump. Lymbyc System, however, does not focus on fruity loops in the construction of their compositions.