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January 26, 1994

Through the Looking Glass

RaincoatsThe Raincoats, The Raincoats (Geffen 1993) -- The Raincoats, a four-woman rock band from the late 70's, have had their debut release, The Raincoats (originally released on Rough Trade in 1979) re-pressed on Geffen. The songs sound remarkably fresh, as the ladies show that their punk-liberated sound will endure.

The band, consisting of Ana Da Silva on vocals and guitars, Vicki Aspinall on vocals, violin and guitar, Gina Birch on vocals and bass, and Palmolive on drums, enjoyed their greatest success in New York and London a decade ago. Ana reports that the band's primary influences included The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, and The Slits.

With their cheeky, revved-up sound and imperfect harmonies, this group can only be described as seriously underground.

Still, with a cover of The Kinks' "Lola" tucked in the middle of the album, it's clear that the ladies had some music inside of them that needed to be delivered to the public -- and fortunately they hit the studio when the songs were at their freshest. If you can't handle the poppishness of Bananarama, then try The Raincoats -- it's a refreshing re-issue.

Eliza GilkysonEliza Gilkyson, Through the Looking Glass (Private Music 1993) -- Through the Looking Glass is the third release from Santa Fe, New Mexico-based singer/songwriter Eliza Gilkyson. Ms. Gilkyson, who has folk, acoustic, and country roots, has released a crystalline disc that draws from her spiritual and political interests to address a contemporary adult audience.

Eliza considers this album a "smooth, flowing journey through the intricacies of life and love." Eliza adds, "there are very few structured things that I believe in any more. The one that I can really count on is that there is a 'mystery' that's greater than anything I know . . . I am completely enamored with the mysterious theater that is going on within me and without me. I don't have answers. I don't have any major conclusions. I am just totally in wonder."

Eliza is a fourth generation artist: her great-grandmother was a songwriter; her grandmother a painter and poet; her father (Terry Gilkyson) penned the hit "Green Fields" and was a folk singer with The Easy Riders; and her brother, Tony Gilkyson, plays guitar for LA-based rockers X.

Eliza GilkysonThe mix on Through the Looking Glass is subtly understated, and matches well against Eliza's introspective tunes. Brother Tony co-produced three of the tracks on Through the Looking Glass; the balance of the cuts were produced entirely by Eliza. The overall feel of the album is gentle and relaxed: while cuts like "Dionysian Love" have a Joan Baez-influenced sound, the more spiritual "Bearing Witness" has an r&b tint to it.

Besides her theistic interests, Eliza is also a devoted environmentalist. Her concern with preserving Santa Fe against unneeded (and unprincipled development) is reflected in the song, "Lights of Santa Fe"; moreover, her husband Reavis is a co-founder of Rainbow Warrior Festivals and Fund, which produces world music concerts across the country.

Small label Private Music is also the home to the hugely-talented Jennifer Warnes: the label tends to favor albums which are semi-acoustic, semi-mystical explorations of people and relationships. Through the Looking Glass is no exception. Recommended for grownups.

-- Randy Krbechek

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