Listen Up: Wednesday, October 31, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Lucid Nation

Tacoma Ballet (Brain Floss Records)

By Matthew Smith

Intriguing band, this Lucid Nation. In existence since 1994, its only constants are Tamra Spivey (vocals, guitar) and Ronnie Pontiac (likewise). The pair otherwise recruits fresh membership each time out. Notable guest stars on Tacoma Ballet, Lucid Nation’s latest, include Patty Schemel (Hole’s drummer) and Greta Brinkman (Moby’s bassist).

Spivey sounds kinda Courtney Love-ish, only talented. Pontiac displays adeptness at almost all guitar styles. The duo dubs its sound punk, jazz, and rock. Close, but dollops of blues, metal, prog, techno, and experimental also appear. The band enthusiastically searches for new ground and challenges musical boundaries, a refreshing rarity in our homogenized, formula-driven culture.

Every track is said to be totally improvised. Some appear fully realized, others like ghostly fragments passing through. Sometimes it sounds as if the band forgot to hit “record” until mid-song.

Yet despite such free-form roaming, and the fact that this is a double album, almost no dead weight shows up. What’s more surprising is that, given the parade of styles, the whole effectively pushes the envelope while remaining familiar as rock ’n’ roll. Some cuts connect right off. Some take time. Like the Rolling Stone’s Exile on Main Street, this record is often a dense, murky affair that requires some long-term commitment — but it’s well worth the effort. Corporate greed and imperialism get spanked in “Welcome to America,” as do apathy and stale music in “Somewhere New.” The queasy, blurred “Problematic” delivers equal measures of danceable fun and motion sickness, while the droning “End of the Line” sounds as if it were recorded while the band was falling down a flight of stairs.

Tacoma Ballet marks one of the year’s strangest and most fulfilling releases. In an age in which karaoke-spouting no-talents from an imbecilic tv show top the charts, we need all the Lucid Nations we can get.


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