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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wendy and Lisa's White Flags of Winter Chimneys = White Flages of Winter Bliss! by Mikdev

Personally, I would call this album 'White Flags of Winter Bliss'! Corny? Absolutely! But this album has been 10 years coming. This is the 5th and latest album by Wendy and Lisa ("Wendy and Lisa", "Fruit at the Bottom", "Eroica", and "Girl Bros" being the others in chronological order). I feel that White Flags of Winter Chimneys is some of their best work, perhaps only rivaled by "Eroica".

The album begins with 'Balloon', a dreamy ballad with melodies as seemingly buoyant as the balloon described in the lyrics. The slowness of the song fools you into thinking that the rest of the album will follow the same wistful suit. However, Invisible will keep you guessing as to what direction the album is headed.

If Joni Mitchell’s vocals could wed music from the Beatles, their offspring would sound like Invisible! This song has been said to be a post break-up song about the two. However, the song could just as easily be applied to other break-ups that they have experienced ;-) Similar to the album, the song appears to seamlessly switch melodies throughout; ranging from rock in the main parts of the song to a Sgt. Pepper-like chorus. Whomever this song is about truly receives the Ire of Wendy towards the end of this song!

Switching gears yet again, ‘Ever After’ is a haunting ballad (again a little reminiscent of the Beatles) with opening vocals prominently featuring BOTH of the ladies for a nice change (instead of the usual one or the other). The chorus proclaims “Love lives ever after, but I don’t want to die any faster” which is definitely something that Romeo would never profess to Juliet (oops! I hope I didn't spoil the end of the play... as if that wasn't required reading in school). However, the song superbly describes how one feels when ‘moving on’ after the loss of a loved one (be it through a relationship break-up or even a death).

Continuing the see-sawing down-tempo/up-tempo theme, the next song is my 2nd favorite from the album: Salt N Cherries (MC5). This song gets your hear pumpin’, feet thumpin’, in an incantation of rock euphoria! If this song doesn’t get some part of your body moving, it’s time to lower the dosage on your sedatives ;-) It is the most spirited and fun song on the album: True fun through music!

Coming down from that rock-spirited high brings us ‘Niagra Falls’. Quite a few other fans have cited this song as one of their favorites, however, I feel more lukewarm about it. It is undoubtedly a fun song, however. ‘Niagra Falls’ is a song that would be even more appreciated if played while cruising in a convertible on a long trip, relaxing on a beach, or basically anywhere else that allows both great scenery and good times.

‘Red Bike’ is my 3rd favorite song on the album! I think it is amusing that the song's title is mentioned in the first sentence of the song and no where else. I keep wanting to call the song “I’m Free” which is the much more recited phrase in the song! This song is also a rock-centered number, although more restrained than Salt N Cherries. ‘Red Bike’ also seems to be a little bit inspired from their day job (scoring ‘Heroes’). Every time I hear the bells during the beginning of the song, I expect Sylar to come around the corner with index-finger drawn :) It is also nice to see that Wendy feels a little more comfortable with publicly singing about a woman. Even though there have been a few mentions of women in previous songs, it is much more open and prominent in this song. Hopefully, we are making enough strides in society so that artists can be whom they want to be without severe repercussions (I wonder if Elton John will ever sing about another man or will it take much longer for society to be able to accept that?).

‘You and I’ is one of the most captivating songs on the album both lyrically and musically. The song opens with the lyrics “Sun kills the moon, the moon starts to cry, the rivers fight the oceans, the oceans rage at night. You and I… running out of time”. What imagery! ‘You and I’ proves that you don't need a full band to make a great song! Its intense beauty lies in the touching lyrics and beautiful acoustic guitar playing for which Wendy is legendary.

‘White Flags of Winter Chimneys’ is the tile track to the album, but interestingly, it does not really stand out compared to some of the other songs on the album. It is a beautiful song but seems to lack some of the more complex melodies and lyrics associated with the other songs. Nevertheless, it is still a good song but not exactly my favorite.

Finally! My favorite song on the album is the final cut (saving the best for last) called ‘Sweet Suite (Beginning at the End)’. The song ingeniously seems to begin where Balloon ended, bringing the listener back full-circle. In my opinion, ‘Sweet Suite’ is the musical equivalent of Picasso’s “Weeping Woman”. Just as Picasso uses a multitude of splendid colors to bring life to his art, Wendy and Lisa use a multitude of overlapping symphonic movements to bring life to ‘Sweet Suite’. The song begins with amazing piano work by Lisa who somehow is able to covey, through her piano, the sadness depicted by the lyrics of missing (both figuratively and literally) a former love. After a few verses of heartbreaking lyrics, the song then breaks out into a full instrumental that is absolutely worthy of being in a hit movie! This song exemplifies some of Wendy and Lisa’s best work to date and is the perfect way to cap-off a truly terrific album!

White Flags of Winter Chimneys is an amazingly beautiful, thoughtful, and poignant album. I love the album, and it has been on my iPhone in heavy rotation since it came out in December. My only hope, for them, is they do not wait another 10 years to give us another chance at this awesome experience!


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