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scissor girls reviews

The Imaginary Layer On Skeletons review
by Ted E. Gray
publication unknown
1994

Punk rock rules! I love it. What can I say? My friends know this, so when the Scissor Girls appeared on the scene a few years ago they all told me to rush out and see them. "They sound just like the early Fall. You have to check them out." Well being the lazy slacker I am I didn't end up seeing them until my band opened for them a year ago at the Hot House. As soon as I saw them live I was hooked. Their sound wasn't so much like the Fall to me but more like early Slits or early PiL. They were punk in the '76 style, not the later formulized punk sound of '78/'79. They played a cover of "Midget Submarine" by the Swell Maps. I thought they were cool. The drummer kept a steady pounding simple beat. The guitar player played crunching rhythm with sparse leads. She had tubes up her nose. Someone told me she has some weird asthma/lung condition. It looked cool! Azita, the bass player, had bright pink hair, and pounded out her bass lines on a Rickenbacher while screaming/snearing her lyrics in a detached way.

The Scissor Girls LP came out a few months ago. I was impressed from the moment I bought it. It looks great. There was a big poster inside and the vinyl was a nice grey marble color. I was wondering how it would sound compared to their live shows. Well to my suprise it sounds even better. Azita's vocals have more of a Mark E. Smith influence with the distorted talking through a telephone type effect on them. They also remind my of... gasp!!! Johnny Rotton! Listen to the way she snears at the end of "EvrxbdxLvsaGdMxstrx". The playing is crisper and tighter and yet keeps a very live feel throughout. A lot of it sounds as if it was recorded live in the studio. The instrumentation is more complex also. With the studio at their disposal they were able to include keyboards on several cuts, and trumpet on "Parasitic 2". The lyrics are retro also. "I'm institutionalized!!!" and "Our lives are never going to be the same again!". Perhaps I shouldn't hype the retro aspects of their music so as to make it sound dated. Go out and buy the Scissor Girls record. The world needs more punk rock. Their sound is authentic and pure.


The Imaginary Layer On Skeletons review
by Jamie Schweser
SKAM, issue #2
December 1994

More artful excitement from Chicago's punk-jazz noise kettle. Amazing abrasive rhythms and a dischordant, no-wavey guitar scratching out repititions that edge into your nerves and drive you twitchy dance mad. The singer has the most dry, sneering rant you've ever heard come out of a girl. Wear a mask, bear your teeth. Blueprint for cutting up the city included.


"New Tactical Outline" review
by Ben
Indie List Digest!
Volume 4, Number 41
October 12, 1995

The Scissor Girls' new single is easily their best work to date (which I guess should be an indication that there is even better stuff yet to come). It plays like an abstraction of their earlier work. Every sound has been tinkered with and stretched out into something different. Gone are the decisive guitar riffs and up-front bass lines of To: The Imaginary Layer On Skeletons (their debut Lp on Quinnah Records). Only Heather's steady drumming remains. On earlier recordings I felt they filled up every space in their songs with notes and beats which received equal emphasis and ended up overwelming the listener. Now they leave more space and vary the attack more. New guitarist Kelly Kuvo uses her guitar to find some strange sounds. Her approach reminds me of Jim O'Rourke's. You get the idea she could just as well be using telephone wire streched across a cinder block and she could still make it sound interesting. IMHO the Scissor Girls are (along with the Flying Luttenbachers and Trenchmouth) the most important Rock band playing in Chicago of which I myself am not a current participant.

This single is part one of two and has "By Process of Elimination", and "Ambulatory" (which has this great cavernous, long-distance reverb on the vocals and which, for me, was the stand-out track), and on the other side, "New Tactical Plan."

Their new music communicates feelings with more intensity because it's more abstract. It's like when you walk into a building and the smell overwhelms you, reminding you exactly of some apartment building you used to live in four years ago. You can't really describe the smell. It's not good or bad. But it's funny how a smell can invoke memories so clearly, better than a photograph, because you don't have to think about the smell itself. It's a trigger. Instantly you remember exactly how you felt four years ago and why you felt that way, and how messed up your life was then. Only now you have some distance, some perspective on the whole thing, and you realize just how sick you were and by extension still are. It's time to seek professional help, I guess.


"New Tactical Outline" review
by unknown
publication unknown
1995

I write about the Scissor Girls last only because words hardly do justice to their inexplicably compelling, beyond-post-everything noise. On the recently released singles "SGs New Tactical Outline, Sec I & II" (SGResearch), the no-wave trio continues its deconstruction of rock language, broadcasting more impenetrable manifestos of insurgency in these end times. Or something like that. Bassist/vocalist Azita has released "Music For Scattered Brains" (SGResearch), an album that lives up to its title. It's an unsettlng suite of synthesizer textures, laced with distant, staticky voices, the sound of distraction giving way to panic and back again. The packaging on all the records, per SG standards, is impeccable. Footnote: the first Scissor Girls single, "Hey Diablo" (Monkeytech), has sold out, according to label president Specky Spec.


"New Tactical Outline" review
by Brian
publication unknown
1995

Mysterious, brutual scratchiness from the windy city that blows away a lot of the 7" wax in '95. Girls with a serious Rough Trade circa 1980 leaning: the basslines sometimes throb Cabaret Voltaire, the jumbled rhythms echo Lilliput, and the guitars swing like "Marque Cha Cha"-era Fall only with a female Mark E through a garbled CD radio. Seriously. The SG's approach the songs on these two separate singles with total energy, hyperactivity, and abandon, yet keeping stuff like "Cranks Control" cohesive and somewhat together. Clangy, primitive, psychotic - even danceable.


Here Is The "Is-Not" review
by Joe Sebastian
publication unknown
1997

Godammit, I missed it...the Scissor Girls are gone, broken up, kaput. Sometime in the last year or so they called and end to their band, and those of us who blinked (and will be eternally damned for it) are left with just the few recorded snippets the Scissor Girls left. All female (though whether that meant diddly to 'em or not doesn't seem an issue) no/new/nothing-wave spasms from Chicago. Beautifully stripped-down, fried and geeked electronic noise. Stratospheric tempos, vocals all a go-go, strange guitar frittering, occasional ass-shaking rhythms...and it's gone, all gone. A full-length album, We People Space With Phantoms, documents this all in far-more straightforward style, but this collection of singles and a Load Records EP, with the inherent scattering of textures one finds in compilations, suits the Scissor Girls' m.o. much more appropriately. Amphetamine beauty unseen since the heydays of the Controtions or Gang of Four, with that sheen of ugliness necessary to really engage the synapses.



Here Is The "Is-Not" review
by Dan
publication unknown
1997

Redundant -sounding "No Wave" revival from this Chicago trio circa 1995 and '96; it's odd to hear such things revived without any forward momentum. Here Is The "Is-Not" is a collection of singles and EPs from this midwestern art project with a sound straight out of the East Village circa 1978 and a fashion sense straight out of London circa 1981. It's hard to figure out just what it is The Scissor Girls accomplish. In the time of No New York the music that inspired this primitive, unsettling, and new; in the late 90s it just seems exploitive - more a fashion statement than a work of art. The Scissor Girls (Kelly Kuvo, Heather Mlowic, and Azita Youssefi) meld Teenage Jesus and Mars "riffs" with a frantic bit of Bush Tetras to create a cartoon version of a scene nearly 20 years past (was that a James Chance sample or a real sax?). What do The Scissor Girls bring to the table? Wacky costumes, Rezillos hairdos, but nothing new that I can hear. I can understand a deep regard for the Manhattan scene that sprouted with No New York - so many bands have drawn ideas from that scene and made them their own - but to simply smash all those sounds together artlessly and put them in bunny ears to sell seems kinda sad to me.

Read Kelly's counterpoint here!



Here Is The "Is-Not" review
by Dean Suzuki
publication unknown
1997

This CD gathers together recordings by the Scissor Girls, a post-punk, pre-grunge female power trio, which first appeared on flexi-disc or 7-inch and 10-inch vinyl. The Scissor Girls purvey loud, basic, distorted (even the vocals) rock that would fit neatly in the No Wave style which emerged out of lower Manhattan in the late '70s and early '80s. In any case, the latter's music can invoke Glenn Branca's early work, circa Lesson No. 1 or The Ascension at times, with similar dissonant, slashing and ferocious power chords, throbbing bass and pounding drums. The raw, low-voiced singing is as much an instrumental gesture as it is a means for conveying text. Other songs are a bit more austere, perhaps with less distortion, but the music is always aggressive, if not carthartic. The Scissor Girls are a powerhouse.


Here Is The "Is-Not" review
by unknown
publication unknown
1997

Chicago's Scissor Girls are a heavily art school damaged female trio whose seemingly random assault on guitar, drums, and bass is actually a carefully executed network of drum beats, obsessive guitar rumbles, and wheezing bass lines which are plotted to be "off." to sound like non-musical accidents. Members of Chicago's new New York No Wave-style Now Wave - along with the Flying Luttenbachers, Lake of Dracula, and numerous other bands on Skin Graft and Atavistic - their records are like oblique manifestos. Their is a message hidden among the wreckage of unidentifiable sound. The Scissors Girl manifesto seems to have some very conscious, subverting-the-subversive, art school awareness going on in their manifestos.

The new singles and odds and ends compilation Here Is "Is-Not" is my first concentrated dose of the Scissors Girls and unfortunately it will also be the last anyone hears from this band of art school refugees who follow in the twisted footsteps of Pussy Galore, God Is My Co-Pilot, and other dissemblers of rock. The Scissors Girls recently broke up. Perhaps the saddest thing about the end of the SG experience is the fact that this compilation shows the passage of time only added fervor to the band's desire to completely sap coherence from rock's center. Whereas even bands like Pussy Galore got more coherent and song dependent as time went on, the Scissors Girl's fossil record shows that this band was just getting started. Most singles comps provide odd listening experiences, usually starting off with a band's newer, more polished work and devolving back into a group's early unfocused days, but this record does the opposite. Here Is the "Is-Not" is chronological, starting with the band's oldest works and getting progressively more recent and more fucked up. Given, even early on this band utilized some odd time schemes, but they are, at the very least, recognizable as extensions of say God is My Co-Pilot's tweaked klezmer. By the end of this compilation, when it delves into the contents of the band's S-T-A-T-I-C-L-A-N-D 10", it sounds like each member of the band is afflicted with tourrettes, playing in a different room, but moving forcefully towards one very persuasive and all-entrancing Holy Grail of a goal. And all along it is all-screaming, all-retching, all-alien, manifesto-blaring death sound.

In the first moments after you stop playing the SG's music, construction sounds will sound melodic to you, radio static will be beautiful, airplane engines will sing. This is severly entrancing and hermetic stuff. One may quibble with the metal categorization but this band makes Slayer look like a bunch of effete pussie.

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