April 01, 2021

The Armoires: Incognito

The cat is out of the bag. Over the last few months a couple of "fake bands" released tracks as part of the Digital Singles Series by the folks at Californian power pop label Big Stir Records. It turns that one band was hiding behind all this: The Armoires, the power pop quintet fronted by label owners Christina Bulbenko and Rex Broome. They had also reached to the other artists on their roster to join in as guest musicians to create what would become Incognito, an album with covers of their musical heroes and a bunch of originals filled with references and lyrical snippets - "Listen to the wind blow / Watch the sun rise" from Fleetwood Mac's The Chain pops up at the end of I Say We Take Off And Nuke The Site From Orbit. The oddest track is the half a minute of audio collage The Armoires Are The Amine Beta Ring Sunshine Harmony Consortium, which does not sound like anything from Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music or The Kinks magnum opus The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society.

It takes some nerve besides the required skills to kick off an album with the John Cale classic Paris 1919. Slightly more rough around the edges than the original, it features the superb harmonic skills of Karla Kane & Khoi Huynh (The Corner Laughers). As a rule of thumb the covers tend to stick close to the originals - why fix a perfect albeit overplayed pop song like Yellow River by one-hit wonder soft rockers Christie. However, they decided to deconstruct and rebuild Senses Working Overtime with ace results. They slowed it down a bit, with call-and-response vocals by Blake Jones, Dolph Chaney and Peter Watts (Spygenius).

The originals range from hillbilly bluegrass rave-ups like Bagfoot Run and Shame And Bourbon. Psych garage gets a place in the sun with Walking Distance and baroque pop meets crooning in Magenta Moon. The Armoires basically concocted an album that consists of a series of fun A-sides and off-kilter B-sides. They should consider reissuing them as a 7" box set when the current run of CDs is sold out. Jukebox owners and vinyl fans in general will love that.

The Armoires:
Christina Bulbenko: vocals, keyboards
Rex Broome: vocals, guitar
Larysa Bulbenko: viola, violin, backing vocals
Clifford Ulrich: bass, backing vocals
John Borack: drums

Incognito is released via Big Stir Records (CD, digital).

  1. Paris 1919
  2. (Just Can't See) The Attraction
  3. I Say We Take Off And Nuke The Site From Orbit
  4. Yellow River
  5. Bagfoot Run
  6. Homebound
  7. The Night I Heard A Scream
  8. Senses Working Overtime
  9. Words And Music
  10. Jackrabbit Protector
  11. Walking Distance
  12. Ohma, Bring Your Light Into This Place
  13. Magenta Moon
  14. Great Distances
  15. Awkward City Limits
  16. The Armoires Are The Amine Beta Ring Sunshine Harmony Consortium
  17. Shame And Bourbon
  18. Ghost Of Fall Singer In Depopulated Griefscape

» The Armoires on Facebook

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