April 8, 2010

Week 31: One-Eyed Doll - Break

(Week 31 of my 52 Austin CD Reviews in 52 Weeks) 
“I did it for love. I did it because I knew you’d want it all someday. I did it for love. Murder was the only way.” – "Murder Ballad"

One-Eyed Doll

Ever since I was turned on to One-Eyed Doll a few years ago by INsite’s Food Editor, Marsha Mann, I’ve loved seeing them live. It’s as much a theatrical experience as it is a rock show. One thing I’ve always been saddened by was the fact that their studio work really never stood up to the performances. With 2010’s Break One-Eyed Doll has finally turned in a studio recording that is as twisted, enchanting and real as their live show.

Break also introduces a new arrangement of One-Eyed Doll, from a two-piece guitar/drum set up to a three-member band. Kimberly Freemen (vocals/guitar) and PJ “Number Three” Evans (former drummer, now bass) are joined full-time by the album’s producer Jason Rufuss “Junior” Sewell (drums).

The first three tracks set the tone on the album. “Airplane Man” is an oddly radio-friendly offering that perked my ears up instantly. With “Beautiful Freak,” One-Eyed Doll proves just why they’ve gotten top honors as Austin’s Best Punk Band in the Austin Music Awards for the last two years. “Murder Ballad” is a disturbingly beautiful love song.

The guitar-driven kick-the-door-down One-Eyed Doll that people are accustomed to hearing doesn’t arrive on Break until the fourth song “See Jane Run.” Songs like the title track and “Suckerfish” also follow the band’s tried and true metal sound.

Of course, storytelling is always a big part of the live experience, and Break features a few personal journey songs. “Cinderblock” tells the story of a 10-year old girl essentially raising herself while dealing with an alcoholic father. And the live staple “New Orleans,” the true story of a boy dying in Freeman’s arms, has been captured well with a heartbeat-like rhythm behind it.  Then there’s the dark “Murder Suicide.”  The album ends with the six-minute epic ballad  “Resurrection.”

The song that is most out of place on the album is also the track that the album wouldn’t feel complete without. Anyone who’s seen OED live knows there’s a humor aspect to balance out the dark undercurrent that runs along most of Freeman’s lyrics. So, a tongue-in-cheek country song called “Redneck Love Song” provides the comic relief on Break

The title song is my favorite track. It’s a fitting song as “Break” is about coming into your own. No longer being confined by what is expected. “And I gave you silence. I gave you everything. And I’ll break my silence. I’m breaking everything. “ I have to admit, Break is not what I thought I was getting into when I popped the CD in. It’s much, much more.

The production-work by Sewell is great. Long-time fans may object that this album is “too polished” but I think it’s a wonderful representation of this band’s body of work. It’s real. That’s probably the most important thing. The songs are honest and on Break he was able to provide a professional recording without compromising the integrity of the songs.

This could be the album that introduces the rest of the world to One-Eyed Doll. All the pieces are in place. It very likely could, well, break the band.   Find out more about One-Eyed Doll by visiting their website at http://www.oneeyeddoll.com/

If you'd like to listen to or purchase Break (or any of the albums in One-Eyed Doll's discography for that matter), the price is up to you. They are inviting people to name their price for the downloads. Here's a link - http://music.oneeyeddoll.com/.

The one-and a half hour-long "Rockumentary" on One-Eyed Doll by DavidJr.com. It's worth the time.


Anonymous said...

Sean, as a fairly new fan of OED...(about a year now) I too was enamored by their newest offering! I have pretty much worn this CD out since it was handed to me at the release during the texas rockfest. Best album I've personally listened to in years.

You hit the nail completely on the head in describing this instant classic...

thanks from a fellow fan!


Kimberly said...

SEAN CLAES! WE LOVE YOU AND YOUR AWESOME REVIEWS!!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!! This will definitely be put to good use in our press materials!!! LOVE AND GRATITUDE!! xoxox kimberly

PS: Thanks JOel! :)