SONGS TO CRY BY FOR THE GOLDEN AGE OF NOTHING
Original Issue: 2004 Dual Plover (PBD-703)
Margot-meter: 5 moons / 5
Do not forget to take a look at the comments section :-)
"This CD is absolutely off its chops, or at least this woman seems to be. If a cackling old witch playing a spooky organ and caterwauling extremely depressing tunes while accompanied by violins and auto harp is your Sunday cup of tea, then I’m sure you’ll adore the quite disturbing sounds of Nora Keyes. You think Joanna Newsom or the Dresden Dolls make some freaked out shit, Los Angeles born Nora kills them for sheer peculiarity. She’s the bastard child of Anton LaVey and Kate Bush and apparently she’s riding her broomstick down for the Big Day Out. Oh…you should be scared all right." - matt reekie.
"If the girl from The Ring had an organ stuck in the well with her, this is the kind of music she would make. Not the remake either, the original Japanese version...it’s heaps scarier. Nora Keyes has released her debut album on the eccentric Sydney label dualpLOVER, and to put it bluntly, it’s frightening. Songs to Cry by is a concept album interwoven with themes of life, death, suffering and (surprise, surprise) transcendence. Full of haunting melodies, gloomy lyrics and a sinister, even bloodcurdling vocal styling, it’s definitely not for the faint hearted. As her organ plays on, we’re confronted with the many paradoxical incarnations of Nora Keyes. She appears both ominous and pure, wicked and beautiful. Clearly, Keyes experiments with her range, shifting from an angelic falsetto to witch-like howling and cackling. There’s a duality, a sense of familiarity juxtaposed against that of the unknown, like that of a dream. Maybe this fiendish witch has appropriated sounds from my nightmares? ‘Cauliflower’ is haunting – the drone of the organ fading through a series of twisted harmonies. While Nora’s vocal range is altogether astounding, it is at times painfully evocative. On ‘My Child’, Ms Keyes howls: “my child eat your little, cold, piece of meat and your soggy brussel sprouts / because you have nothing / in a puddle of urine / not your own.” Positively disturbing, these lyrics create striking visual imagery. ‘Old Pal’ – which, coincidently, is a Jimmie Rodgers cover – is the lightest track on the album, as Keyes breaks into a possessed, but strangely effective, form of yodelling. In ‘The Show is Over’, Nora shapeshifts yet again, this time adopting a childlike quality to her voice. But more or less, this banshee seems to float on some dark rain cloud, eerily overseeing an ominous world of cruelty and bedlam. This is truly original stuff from a lass who apparently grew up in a haunted house. Maybe that explains it. Regardless, organs are really, really creepy. Period." - Cassandra Kiely
"This is Nora Keyes' (of The Centimeters) new solo album and it is everything I hoped it would be. The best way to describe it would be if you were digging through a crate of old 78s and found a dusty old album in the back covered with earth and leaves with songs by a woman who has probably spent a lot of time alone in a shack before recording her music. The recording itself really does have the feel of a much older recording with vocals that sound like they were recorded at the same studio that did recording for those old black and white Popeye cartoons. I love all the songs on this album, but I think my favorites are "Small Apart" (which I saw her perform at a Centimeters show before with a bunch of her teeth blacked out which added to the effect of her creepy cackling during the song), "Look At You, You're Ugly", and her cover of a Jimmy Rogers yodelling song called "Old Pal" (which I would love to direct a video for...it would be neat to see Nora in a 50s style cowgirl outfit). Other people performing music on this album are Creekbird, Rebecca Lynn, and Ray Day of The Centimeters and Dame Darcy (whose weird episode of Blind Date I finally saw today) on Autoharp and Saw. This is not "normal" music by any means so get this if you are looking from something so different from mainstream music today that it may as well be from outer space. This is good music for taking a bath or doing work in the toolshed." - Chris Beyond.