Clara Engel ‘Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss’

clara engel

 

Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss, the latest collection of hypnotic, ethereal blues from Clara Engel, took the cricket all the way back to this mystery of a girl we used to know, back when we were much younger than today. She was a mystery but she was also as seemingly innocent as they come. She had dark hair and ivory skin, and she loved kissing in the shadows. And she had the pointiest canines– bright white and near razor sharp– I’ve ever seen. Except on vampires.

One night I walked with her through a dark field at the edge of a swirling ocean of a crowd gathered for a music festival. She pulled me along by the hand as she looked for shadows in the night. And when she found the darkest shadows she could find under a massive oak at the farthest edge of the field, she pushed me up against the tree and looked up at me and smiled. Mysterious, innocent, seductive. Her bright white and near razor sharp canines shone in the darkness. She wrapped her arms around my neck and pulled her lips to my ear. “You know I’m a vampire. Right?”

And of course I’d had the thought. You couldn’t see those teeth and not have the thought. But the rational– or maybe the cynical– part of me knew it wasn’t true. That it couldn’t be true. But there was another part of me– the part of me that felt most alive in that moment, the part that wanted mystery and danger and seduction– that part thought maybe, just maybe, it was true. And maybe that part of me– as this mysterious, innocent girl with dark hair and ivory skin and pointy canines slid her lips from my ear to my neck and sank her teeth into my flesh– maybe that part of me even hoped it was true.

And that’s how Clara Engel’s latest feels. Mysterious, innocent, seductive, but with an underlying, almost spiritual menace. It reveals itself gradually, patiently, almost imperceptibly, and pulls you in slowly, wrapping its arms around you and whispering softly in your ear. “Demons are real.”

Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss is out now on cd via Paradigms Records here. Or you can grab it on cassette via Auditory Field Theory here.

And be sure to check out the Clara Engel Bandcamp site here.

Long Live Motorhead! Long Live Lemmy!

motorhead

I’d heard Motörhead as a young high school rock ‘n’ roller, but the first time I really heard Motörhead was one weekend night when I was hanging out with one of my best buds, Jerome (dubbed “Motorhead” from this particular night forward, a nickname he rocks to this day, over 25 years later, though it’s oft shortened to Motor– as in Uncle Motor, Papa Motor, etc.).

So Motor and I are in his faded yellow ’69 Mustang Fastback doing what small town Texas teens do on weekend nights, gathering in some random spot on the outskirts of town with our raging hormones and sixers of Busch and/or Milwaukee’s Best (the Beast!) for the best approximation of a party that we could rouse on any given occasion. On this particular night, before we head across the dark field toward the distant flicker of a campfire, Motor insists that we have to listen to this badass Motörhead song on the latest live album, Nö Sleep At All. “I mean really listen, Willie.” Then he pops the tape into his Radio Shack cassette deck and cranks up “Just ‘Cos You Got the Power”.

And I do as I’m told– I really listen. And it blows my mind.

First comes Lemmy introducing the song. Then the riff. Simple. Propulsive. Then a wailing, soaring guitar solo. Then Lemmy’s gravelly, iron-fisted voice. And those lyrics…

You might be a financial wizard,
With a sack of loot,
All I see is a slimy lizard,
With an expensive suit,
Go on and run your corporation,
Go and kiss some ass,
You might buy half of the nation,
But you can’t buy class

…I mean, 16/17-year-old me was all in. Especially once Lemmy growls the chorus…

Just ‘Cos You Got The Power,
That don’t mean you got the right

That’s right, motherfuckers.

I still can’t think of a better anthem for the powerlessness and estrangement and angst of youth. Even if you don’t dig the unmistakably heavy metal sound, you can still get behind the attitude– pure rock ‘n’ roll. Whether you’re a blue-haired skate punk, a floppy-haired Smiths fan, a stringy-haired metalhead, or anything in between, if you’ve ever felt disenfranchised, Lemmy is speaking directly to you. Hell, even if you’ve left rock behind for rap and the power of the likes of N.W.A, or if you’re a classic Texas shit-kickin’ country boy, the attitude still takes hold of you.

And that’s what Motörhead does– crosses genres and unites hearts and minds and rock ‘n’ roll souls. That’s the Lemmy legacy. That and some seriously badass songs.

Long live Motörhead. Long live Lemmy.