Monday 18 June 2012

The Double Feature Creatures - Return!

Album review by KevW

You know how sometimes it's the bands who never make giant steps for mankind, who never sell millions of records and who never achieve much success outside of their local scene that are the most interesting, enticing and fun? They're great to know aren't they? Hidden away in their own secret corner of the music world, waiting to be discovered by anyone who happens to pass by that way on their personal journey though life, not jumping around shouting "look at us!" or tailoring their sound to pander to the Zeitgeist or the wishes of hideous men in suits with their promises to make you a star.

The Double Feature Creatures are one such band. Formed in 1994 by Christine Leakey, they only existed for a couple of years with their output stretching no further than a couple of 7" singles and some compilation album appearances. Maybe Toronto wasn't crying out for an all-girl (following the departure of original drummer Gavin anyway) psych/garage band, or maybe they were just a little too out of step for the time. For years these rarities, along with unreleased material, remained difficult to track down until loose ends, oddities and obscurities (along with the official releases) were gathered together in 2005 as 'Return!' and given a limited edition CD run. Now, following the buzz generated by Christine's recent solo outing 'Tapping Trees In A Trinket Box Of Treasure', the compilation gets a much deserved reissue, again on CD, but this time digitally too.

Because the songs on 'Return!' were recorded in different locations, with different line-ups, at different times and some live, some studio, it doesn't flow as smoothly as a 'proper' album would. The idea seems to be as much about sweeping up whatever scraps were available to allow fans, new and old, access to the material they created in their brief lifespan. When looked at this way, this album is a fascinating glimpse back to a young, hungry and charismatic band who were making music for all the right reasons, and having a blast while they were at it. The sound quality may not always be outstanding, but the songs burn bright enough that their light is easily visible. The riffs are classic and simple, the instrumentation is wonderfully primal and makes tracks like 'Feline Fandango' feel so threadbare they could disintegrate at any given moment.

This is a triumph of ideas and enthusiasm over studio trickery and sterile perfectionism. 'Jeloh' and 'Charlie's Angels Superstars!' are held together through sheer willpower alone and are all the more infectious and joyous for it. The Cramps are a clear inspiration to songs such as 'In The Basement' with it's psychobilly leanings, and the grungy 'Sourdough' captures a raw live energy that many would have airbrushed away. When they veer closer to actual studio recordings the results are incredibly exciting. The 60s garage clatter of 'TV Isis Odyssey' is the whole concept of DIY rock 'n' roll ideals distilled into three minutes, and in 'Jursatomic' they're sitting on a true lost classic. 'Return!' is frayed, ragged and vibrant garage/punk/pop carried out with the kind of conviction that most can only dream of. The saying that it's the imperfections that make you beautiful might as well have been coined for this record, but the best way to sum up The Double Feature Creatures is in their own words - 'Right On, Hotpants!'

The Double Feature Creatures' website

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