Guitars are Overrated Anyway
The year is 1904. Three musicians take stage; two cellists in long flowing dresses and corsets and a drummer in trousers held by suspenders. But the carefully built esthetic takes a sharp twist when Rasputina hits the first note of “Doomsday Averted” from their new album Frustration Plantation. The haunting buildup of eastern-influenced plucking strings and dueling cellos accompanies two ghostly feminine voices blending in melancholy harmonies. Later these same gentle strings wail in overdriven bliss behind the steady crash of cymbals and snare on “Possum of the Grotto.” Next these strings pluck the playful folk melody of “The Mayor.” Ultimately, Rasputina’s sound is indefinable; they craft songs that quiver and shake, titillate and taunt.
Front-woman Melora Creager’s lyrics throughout are the typical tongue-in-cheek dark comedy about the struggles of modern man (and woman). A clever cover of the 1930’s musical number “If Your Kisses Can’t Hold the Man You Love (Then Your Tears Won’t Bring Him Back)” transforms into a rousing feminist anthem with a solid drum line and Melora’s eccentric vocal style. She enunciates like a storyteller, weaving characters in and out of songs with the help of fellow cellist and vocalist Zoe C. Keating.
Rasputina’s bizarre and morbid sense of humor is, as usual, on display throughout the album, notably in the narrative piece “My Captivity By Savages” and the hauntingly delicate “Oh, Injury.” They also show that they are more than capable of writing “rock” songs with the churning, distorted cellos of “Saline the Salt Lake Queen” and the driving “Momma was an Opium Smoker.” Frustration Plantation continues to drive this band forward, refusing to slip into something stale or confined.