Reviews and Autobiography
Reviews for "Twelves" CD
Wow. I’ve reviewed a lot of punk rock lately. A lot of it has been good, so I can’t complain, but noting that this new band was from the Asian Man camp I had completely predicted something brash and political. When I learned Lance Reynolds produced, and that he had contributed to the Blue Meanies, Alkaline Trio, Nil8 and MU330, I took a pause to brace my ears a bit. My apologies to Bagheera for attempting to pin them down before even putting the music on, because boy, was I wrong.
Bagheera is made for fans like me: people who love Superchunk, Yo La Tengo, Grandaddy and Rainer Maria. It’s a duo of Theodore Moll and Heather Dallape, and despite signature hardened guitar lines and distorted squeal, these two are softies in the best way. Twelves comes for the rock, but stays for the undying melody.
Like Jejune and P.E.E. before them, Bagheera focus on pretty female vocals, and allow a plain-and-low male counterpart to play the straight man. They blend layers of full, contagious, and often noisy rock styling with unabashed enthusiasm, constantly sounding like they’re hitting their stride. Fans of Lefty’s Deceiver and Helicopter Helicopter will no doubt be pleased; even more impressively, so will followers of Built to Spill, if only for the sheer freedom demonstrated by their shameless guitar tangents.
Highlights can be found immediately, often cushioned by eccentric thirty-second instrumental meanderings. "Long Division" is quite possibly the best conclusion to P.E.E.’s "Treeeeed" that I’ve ever heard – it’s spunky, full of propulsive guitars and cathartically prolonged vocals. There’s no choice but to feel good singing along.
"Bulbchanger" feels consciously arty, in a similar vein as Veruca Salt’s American Thighs or the Breeders’ Pod. It is a song of exhilarating momentum: it begins almost bleakly with a slow rumble but is countered by sweetly crooning complimentary parts, then moves toward a roaring intervention and brooding, wounded release. Despite being an instrumental, and leaving their pitch-perfect vocal dynamic behind, "The Halloween Disguise" is one of the most immediately loveable tracks. It is a reckless keyboard romp akin to the Warren Commission or the Anniversary, lively and hypnotic with an excess of distortion and winding guitars.
Finally, "Better at Night" recalls the spunky restlessness of Sleater-Kinney or Sarge, standing as a discontent punk number with a bitter punch. As it momentarily deconstructs into an atmospheric, groundless lamentation, you get caught off guard just long enough that the second inertial wind is given more lift. Like many of their tracks, it masters a sense of manipulation, changing things up ever-so-slyly so that the format can be reconstructed to greater effect.
Twelves is not meant to be airtight, leaving space for these deliberate sidebars and patient listeners. As such, it is continually rewarding, and shows Bagheera as a band to follow – track to track and from this remarkable debut forward.
Reviewed by Sarah (Iddings) Peters
The press materials cite Rainer Maria, the Flaming Lips, and Yo La Tengo as stylistic touchstones for Bagheera, a St. Louis-based duo consisting of Heather Dallape and Theodore Moll. But listeners of a certain age will hear two other predecessors as well, and maybe even more strongly: X (in those astringent boy-girl harmonies) and Timbuk 3 (in those quirky hooks and that understated distrust of science and technology). Bagheera's sound is a little bit messy and their melodies are sometimes kind of loopy, but several of these songs hit the spot immediately (like the glorious "Long Division" and "Admission/Concession"). Others grow on you with repeated listenings until their gentle hooks sink deep into your brain. That's the case with "Isolated in an Accelerating Universe," for example, which hides gorgeous guitar lines in a sonically sloppy web of distortion, and of the rhythmically strange but undeniably hook-filled "Solstice." The CD features a bonus CD-ROM track that includes lyrics, a brief and worthless snippet titled "Eleven Twelve" (accompanied by a nonvideo that looks like a static picture of organ register buttons), an extra song titled "Not Enough Time for Quitting," and a very fine extended mix of "Admission/Concession." Highly recommended.
by Rick Anderson
What began as two individuals committing their alien ideas to home recordings transformed into an album's worth of hairy, polyphonic music from Neverland.
Bagheera is composed of Heather Dallape and Theodore Moll from St. Louis. Their debut release, "Twelves," is an accumulation of musically out-there meanderings that seem to alternate between freestyle from-the-basement euphoria and sheet-upon-sheet of stratospheric guitar noise and textures. Sonic Youth-like subversion and electronic flourishes round out this gauzy head trip.
There's the layers of distortion-happy melodies and unified singing on opener "Long Division," followed by "Isolation In An Accelerating Universe" with its maze of guitar tones, both electric and acoustic, and speeds. Wayward plucks concentrate into flurrying runs on "True Silver," while live drums crash like a collapsing pot rack. The video game percussion and screwy background noise of "Admission/Concession" takes the music into yet another parallel universe and the basic instrumentation of "Solstice" is soon overwhelmed by abrasive guitar abuse.
Not sure what indie rock is and need an example? Here it is.
Bagheera: twelves (Asian Man Records)
Asian Man Records founder, Mike Park, has been distributing his love for independent music throughout and beyond the U.S. since 1991. This year, the California-based label has done us a favor by adding St. Louis natives Bagheera to its already impressive roster of D.I.Y. artists. Former Climber members Heather Dallape guitar/vocals/bass) and Theodore Moll (drums/vocals/guitar) began recording in 2003 and released their 13-track debut this past February. The duo’s lo-fi indie pop is a lofty, cosmic gem filled with textured guitars, grooving bass lines, and pushy drumming.
Yet, the overwhelming aspect of the entire CD is the infectious male-female vocal interplay. Moll’s dry, almost unenthusiastic approach to singing reminds me of a burned-out college professor regurgitating 20-year-old lessons to his students, but it works perfectly when coupled with Dallape’s sweet, blissful midrange. When they sing “Don’t let them tell you you’re nothing without them” on the opening track “Long Division,” you know the slippery melodies hovering over the jangling guitar are perfect decorum for the album’s content: songs about space exploration, science, time travel, and, of course, love. Don’t let these topics worry you; the lyrics aren’t highbrow or silly, but complements to the often complex and well-crafted changes.
Bagheera takes a couple lyrical breathers with the instrumentals “The Holloween Disguise” and “Shape vs. Concentration (Within a Vacuum)”; the natural, airy production by Lance Reynolds keeps these tracks from being trite and pretentious. Dallape’s bass playing fringes on the heels of punk, especially during track three, “True Silver,” and track six, “Bulbchanger,” and is driven by Moll’s steadily fierce drumbeats. “Solstice” highlights this pairing further and gives a kick before closing the CD with the perfect afternoon driving tune, “Idle.” One of my favorites, “H for Halloween,” is more melancholy but the dark lyrics suit the churning guitar.
The occasional odd tone and off-pitch vocals are charming and accompany the duo’s sonic experimentations. (Indie pop isn’t supposed to be conventional.) This is definitely a debut that will urge you to catch Bagheera live and anxiously await their next “experiment.” bagheeramusic.com/asianmanrecords.com —Jeff Church—Playback St. Louis
Bagheera "Twelves" (CD) Label: Asian Man released in 2004 Intelligent indie rock: three words that can start you on your way to understanding Bagheera. But obviously we have to expand on that. A boy-girl duo that can give an impressively produced yet still rocking sound. A fascination with Halloween in specific and science or science fiction in general in their songs. And an overall exciting 13-track debut album, titled Twelves. That will get you most of it.
The lead track, “Long Division,” may be the most straightforward on the album, and also the best. A spacey but ambitious opening leads into the verse, where we first hear the pleasing vocal harmonies between Heather Dallape and Theodore Moll. Even though it’s a storyline based on struggling relationships, we still get hints off the scientific ideas to come, and the rising guitar lines in the background throughout solidifies the song.
And then it gets weirder. A harder guitar intro leads into a charming story about space travel that descends into seclusion from society, as suggested by the title, “Isolation in an Accelerating Universe.” A guitar solo soars, before dropping off into the lingering closing line, “It must be weird/knowing that you’re the only one.” Next comes a quick jaunt in “True Silver,” about silver that flows through veins. After this is another cheeky short gem, as Moll complains about something or someone who has “their own sick sense of physics” on “Halted by the Source.”
The middle of the album is where the Halloween fetish comes to light. First is “H for Halloween,” in which the holiday is merely the setting for a (admittedly) gruesome breakup. This track is notable for the complete silence at about the 1:35 mark, before Moll comes in with a quiet acoustic melody that sounds almost completely unrelated to the first half of the song. “Bulbchanger” follows, and while not explicitly related to October 31, the imagery is fitting, with dark terror gripping Dallape’s heart and evil air that must be cleared. The background instruments here, especially the drum machine, are very cleverly deployed and not overused.
An instrumental song comes next in the form of “The Halloween Disguise,” which features some attractive keyboard work and quivering guitars. The Halloween motif is finished off with “Not Chasing Ghosts,” which actually builds from an acoustic base to turn into a summer road trip tale, though based on time spent at the arcade and not the beach. The whimsy of the first half of the song drifts into a sinister instrumental end.
The album still does not turn back into simple tunes about everyday ideas. “Admission/Concession” is a haunting little vocal showcase in which Dallape and Moll intone over one another. Then another, shorter instrumental break leads to a fast-paced “Better at Night.” The science overtones play out both in the lyrics and some of the peculiar sonic effects.
All this leads to maybe the creepiest sounding song on Twelves in “Solstice,” both lyrically and musically. The melody slowly dissolves and spoken words that are hard to make out, except for words such as skeleton, come in over it, before it fades out. But before you get too bothered by this, Bagheera come back with their second closest thing to a typical pop tune to finish the CD with “Idle.” It’s in the vein of “Not Chasing Ghosts” but even more upbeat, and sews up the album with a smile.
Bagheera are not afraid to take you somewhere with their music, whether as far away as Jupiter or as pleasant as an unnamed coast. They will not take the direct route, however, layering it all in quirky lyrics, scrappy guitars, and fractured rhythms. Have no fear, though, because this is a musical journey definitely worth taking, as good sounds are never too far away.
Review written on 2004/04/08 by Dan Shvartsman
Oh, these two-person bands just keep a-coming. Bagheera, the union of Heather Dallape (late of Climber) and Theodore Moll (ex-Climber and current MU330 member) may have the girl-boy part down, but these two are doing the music all wrong if they're trying to hop on the bandwagon. Bagheera doesn't go in for the bluesy caterwauling, the garage-rock snarl or even the synchronized outfits and creepy backstory; instead, the band tills the fertile ground of indie-pop/space-folk (for lack of a better description) for its buzzing rock joy. Bagheera's debut album, twelves, skips along merrily, flashing hints of Dianogah, early-'90s Flaming Lips and some unrecognizable stuff that must come from Moll and Dallape's fondness for elves.
Bagheera - Twelves (Asian Man)
Bagheera (fun to say, isn't it?) is a female/male indie pop combo that will inevitably draw comparisons with Mates of State. That's not a bad thing. Bagheera is every bit as catchy and bittersweet, and their sound is perhaps more varied because of the slightly more experimental nature of their music. Often they will include short instrumental interludes between the more "standard" songs, and these are frequently interesting, and occasionally pointless. Overall, I was very impressed with this album. Recommended If You Like: Mates of State, Rainer Maria