|The Casket Girls — True Love Kills the Fairy Tale (2014)|
The Casket Girls — True Love Kills the Fairy Tale
♦♦ This eerie trio began with a chance meeting between two sisters playing music in a public square and a stranger who was transfixed by their songs.
Formed: 2012 in Savannah, GA
Location: Savannah, GA
Album release: February 11, 2014
Record Label: Graveface/Graveface Records & Curiosities/The Orchard Records
01 Same Side 4:15
02 Day to Day 3:30
03 Chemical Dizzy 3:49
04 Ashes and Embers 4:03
05 True Love Kills the Fairy Tale 3:59
06 Secular Love 4:30
07 Holding You Back 3:36
08 Stone and Rock 3:22
09 Perfect Little Soul 4:44
10 The Chase 4:43
℗ 2014 GRAVEFACE
♦ All songs written by Ryan Graveface / Elisa Greene / Phaedra Greene
Album Moods: Atmospheric Dreamy Spacey Ethereal Laid-Back/Mellow Lush Meandering Trippy Hypnotic Smooth Gentle Hedonistic Literate Detached © The Casket Girls @ Fonda Theatre, Hollywood 11/18/12
♦ Ryan Graveface Composer, Engineer
♦ Elisa Greene Composer, Lyricist, Vocals
♦ Phaedra Greene Composer, Lyricist, Vocals
♦ Collin Jordan Mastering
♦ Andy LeMaster Mixing, Vocal Engineer
♦ Ryan McCardle Layout
♦ Maria Reichstadt Artwork
♦ Peter Seebach Percussion
♦ TW Walsh Percussion
Review by Fred Thomas ♦ Score: ****
♦ The Casket Girls‘ 2012 debut, Sleepwalking, was a darkly haunted affair, its creepy textures and cemetery-at-midnight harmonies the result of a chance meeting between Black Moth Super Rainbow‘s Ryan Graveface and sisters Elsa and Phaedra Greene. (Experimental quintet Black Moth Super Rainbow mixes electronica, pop, folk, and rock influences to create a unique, mind-expanding brew that equally references vintage psychedelia and contemporary electronic indie pop.)
♦ Graveface gave the relative strangers a stack of instrumentals he’d been working on and the sisters fleshed them out into full-on songs with their dour lyrical imagery and untrained, homespun melodies.
♦ For second album True Love Kills the Fairy Tale, the trio repeated this somewhat unorthodox creative process, again calling on drummer TW Walsh to play live percussion over Graveface’s roller-rink electronic rhythms. True Love Kills the Fairy Tale retains some of the spooky, misty, ghost-in-the-graveyard qualities of its predecessor, but the overall feel is far more dreamy and textural, offering something more spirited than emotionally uneasy. Built on an overused, grating Casio rhythm preset, album opener “Same Side” immediately transcends its played-out musical backdrop with Elsa and Phaedra’s searching harmonies and interlocking vocal melodies.
♦ The songs have a heightened drive this time around, with choruses to tunes like “Chemical Dizzy” and the brilliant title track having an almost anthem-like catchiness. Always singing in tandem, with off-kilter lyrics about everything from doing drugs to daily living triggering oppressive ennui, the Greene sisters seem almost detached from Graveface’s increasingly synth pop instrumentals. While the songs on True Love Kills the Fairy Tale are solid as is, the melodies and vocal arrangements are so strong, one wonders what they’d be like dropped somewhere other than atop Graveface’s watery vintage synth-based instrumentals. Exciting and moving, the songs on True Love Kills the Fairy Tale would work just as well stripped-down and spare as they do in the intricately produced electro-pop forms presented here.
Artist Biography by Fred Thomas
♦ Savannah, Georgia trio the Casket Girls formed when Black Moth Super Rainbow contributor Ryan Graveface met sisters Elsa and Phaedra Greene by chance. The sisters were hanging out in a public square playing autoharp and singing to each other. Graveface was transfixed and eventually approached the strangers and asked them to start a band. Working from an amassment of instrumental tracks Graveface sent them, the Greene sisters wrote lyrics and vocal parts for 15 songs, ranging stylistically from eerie neo-disco to softly melodic electronic indie pop.
♦ Drummer TW Walsh was called in to replace shoddy electronic drum tracks with meatier live drums, completing the recording process of the Casket Girls' debut album, Sleepwalking. It was released in late 2012 and the band began touring behind it shortly thereafter. The band repeated the process of fleshing out Graveface's instrumental madness with their own, even wilder lyrics and melodies on second album True Love Kills the Fairy Tale. This dreamier and more haunted affair arrived in early 2014.
Rowan Kaiser • Jan 15, 2014 • 11:05AM • Rating: B-
♦ The Vampire Diaries was never terribly good at working themes into its episodes, at least, not intentionally. It was all on the surface, all wild plotting and direct characterization. It generally worked, of course, but it also meant that the show rarely strayed away from surface storytelling. The Originals, in its short time, has been more willing to play with thematic depth (especially with free will and vampiric compulsion), but there may be growing pains. Case in point: “The Casket Girls,” an episode that feels it just discovered thematic resonance and shoves it an episode as awkwardly as possible.
♦ Rebekah is the mouthpiece of those themes. Apparently between the last and this one, she listened to a bunch of Spice Girls, because superficial “girl power” is all she can talk about. “Us girls have to stick together,” she says, both in flashback and in present day. That's not the only way she frames it. “Well, I've never been a fan of the boy's club” she tells Hayley as she watches Klaus, Elijah, and Marcel conspiring.
♦ So suddenly, every line from Claire Holt's mouth is about girls or boys (she even gets a little faux-narration out of it), and it's as confusing as it is annoying. We've never seen Rebekah out there as The Feminist Avenger before. Then again, to be fair, Rebekah's been one of the more malleable characters across both shows. She started as a femme fatale, became an immortal mean girl, then got written off temporarily for being too effectively annoying at being a mean girl. Her return coincided with a massive upswing in quality on The Vampire Diaries directly related to her having a real motivation (to take the cure for vampirism), but she's been wobbly on The Originals since that was no longer an option.
♦ For the bulk of this show's run, she's been used primarily to illustrate how abusive Klaus is, a role which took away the agency she'd managed to seize on TVD. Therefore I'd be quite happy if this was the beginning of a new characterization for Bex, but I'm going to need a little bit more of a theoretical underpinning for her motivations. If she's going to rule New Orleans as an undead matriarch, she should find some time for some Simone de Beauvoir or bell hooks along the way. I'm only being partially facetious, to be honest. It's unclear if this focus on the women of The Originals is a one-off for an episode about Sophie and Davina attempting to take power or revenge (with notable roles for Cami, Hayley, and of course Rebekah), or if it's actually going to turn into a consistent thrust for the show. If it's the latter, it's going to need something to make it less grating.
♦ It's a pity that the girl power framing of “The Casket Girls” is so annoying, because apart from that, this was one of the more intense episodes of The Originals thus far. The confrontation between the witches, Davina, Marcel and Klaus that I expected to come a couple of episodes ago occurred, to some exist here. At the very least, all the characters were involved in the episode, and all made some kind of choice as to where their allegiances truly lay.
♦ Davina was the most critical of those, with most of the episode focuses on what she's doing, or what the people looking for her are doing. She's pissed off because Marcel lied to her, but her plans to leave town are derailed by a gaggle of witches (in costume, quickly dispatched!) and Klaus & company, very nearly as easily dispatched. In other words, Davina went from being a secret weapon to an active player in New Orleans' power struggles. Not coincidentally, this was, by far, the most I've liked her character thus far.
♦ Similarly, after a half a season where Cami is an emotional weapon similar to Davina's magical one, she starts to fight back. It's not much, but her telling Klaus that she'll expose him is a likewise a major step forward for the character.
♦ Finally, there's Sophie Deveraux, who The Originals seemed to forget about in the past few episodes. She's still off to the side of “The Casket Girls,” seeking out the body of Elijah's old lover Celeste in order to gain witchy power somehow, and using Hayley to do so. I still believe that Sophie's character could be an important and effective one for the show, and bringing her back into the fold is a good start to that.
♦ But here in this episode, she's less important than the final revelation of the episode: that her attempt to do whatever she's doing with Celeste is going to backfire in some dangerous way. As I said, I didn't really enjoy the Rebekah-based framing of this episode, but its completion led to the Sophie-Celeste revelation, which I really liked. It was fairly conventional genre work — two characters put together a creepy puzzle, one tries to tell the another that she's about to unleash something she doesn't want to unleash, can't reach her, then boom, cliffhanger. It's just really well-done genre work. I got excited about the idea of Celeste both based on the music and the editing and the creepy pictures as well as my normal structural analysis that a powerful external villain could do a lot for this show. I'm looking forward to next week, hoping the good from “The Casket Girls” is accented, and the bad disposed with. (http://www.avclub.com/)
BY MIKE MARIANI ON FEBRUARY 10, 2014 ♦ Score: ****
By Dave Beech, February 7, 2014
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|The Casket Girls — True Love Kills the Fairy Tale (2014)|