Aural Fixation: Shivaree

Formed in 1997, Shivaree quickly brought their spooky pop to the masses. The trio’s first album, the awesomely-titled I Oughtta Give You a Shot in the Head for Making Me Live in This Dump, contained what became the group’s best-known song, “Goodnight Moon.” The song featured Shivaree’s sonic hallmarks: indeterminate-but-dark subject matter, appropriately woozy instrumentation and singer Ambrosia Parsley‘s beguiling vocals. Five years after its initial release, “Goodnight Moon” was featured in Kill Bill: Volume 2, which brought it even more attention. By that point, Shivaree had released another album (2002’s Rough Dreams, which never saw a U.S. release) and was prepping for their magnum opus.

Who’s Got Trouble?, released in 2005, is a culmination and distillation of everything Shivaree had done before. The album leads with “New Casablanca,” a modern day torch ballad with a sultry piano melody from Danny McGough. The album takes its name from the chorus in “New Casablanca,” which also features a peppering of great-sounding words like “buckaroo” and lines like “It won’t be over easy/but it could be over soon.” Elsewhere on the album, Parsley gets into a bossa-nova mood on “Little Black Mess” and guitarist Duke McVinnie provides some impressive noise manipulation on a cover of Brian Eno’s “The Fat Lady Of Limbourg.” Who’s Got Trouble? plays like a musical cabaret, occasionally featuring brass sections and rarely picking up speed beyond a midtempo groove. The album would also turn out to be Shivaree’s last disc of original material.

In 2007, the band released Tainted Love: Mating Calls and Fight Songs, one of the strangest covers albums I’ve ever heard. Not only did the band pick songs from artists as diverse as Chuck Berry, Mötley Crüe and R. Kelly, but they radically rearranged each song until it’s nearly unrecognizable. One of the more intriguing examples of this is their take on “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” in which they repeat the two-line chorus as a full-on mantra. During a short promotional tour for Tainted Love, Shivaree disbanded. Ambrosia Parsley, who contributed vocals to Dave Sitek‘s Maximum Balloonproject last year, is preparing to release her solo debut.

Watch: Shivaree – “New Casablanca” from Who’s Got Trouble? (2005)

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~ by E. on April 28, 2011.

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