Temporary tattoo. Enough said.

First three adjectives that come to mind when listening to this album:

Three favorite songs on album:
"I'll let you be my Baby"
"Oh La La!"
"Wood Lead Rubber"

From the first steamy, confident electric guitar note of "I'm Alright," Agent Ribbons matches my moodiness note for note. With their engaging sophomore album, Chateau Crone, this duo (currently) is a musical montage of DIY, post-feminist, vintage, garage-pop, surf-rock, genius.

The cigarette soaked vocals cascade over witty lyrics effortlessly, especially in the slightly indulgent–yet reminiscent of Chicago (The musical, you ass)–track "I'll let you be my Baby." The Parisian, gypsy styled tune dances through the chorus, "He's not too clever/ he's not well read/ but he's good in bed/ Enough said," and makes me chuckle a bit. It also makes me press repeat. Multiple times.

Overall, this is a finely crafted album with purposefully placed elements that bring the listener back. It's vintage to the point of being nearly nostalgic, yet when thrown on the canvas along with wit and mood, it enters into a category all its own. One might draw comparisons to Best Coast or Camera Obscura, but in either case, I'd grab the Agent Ribbons album instead.

December 20th—The Bootleg Theater, Echo Park CA

Q&A: (With Natalie Gordon of Agent Ribbons)
1. Who or what is your musical inspiration?
"Our inspiration is all over the map, so it's hard to draw a straight line from one thing to another!  As far as this latest album specifically, there are specific artists and albums that went into it. For one, Grey Gardens--the documentary about the Beales--was a huge inspiration!  We were listening to a lot of the Girls in the Garage compilation as well as Kurt Weill, Os Mutantes, Bow Wow Wow, Deerhoof, Neutral Milk Hotel, Eartha Kitt, and Josephine Foster.  I don't know...it's hard to isolate specific points on the inspiration map when there's so much happening at once!"

2. How long has Agent Ribbons been together?
"Lauren and I started the band in the spring of 2006, but we didn't really start touring and all that until late 2007.  Then, Naomi joined the band in January of 2009, recorded a 7 inch and an album, and then quit a couple months ago.  Now we're back to being a two piece and are going on five years next spring!"

3. How did Agent Ribbons start and what was the process for creating Chateau Crone? 
"Some songs on the album were written over the course of a rather sprawling chunk of time...Wallpaper of Skin, Grey Gardens and 'Wood, Lead, Rubber' we wrote a lot earlier than songs like 'I'm Alright' and 'Oh, La La!' which still feel pretty new to us.  Half the album was written within two months of recording, so many of the ideas developed in the studio while it was all happening.  First, we recorded all analog in Los Angeles with Manny Nieto, who worked on the last Breeders record, Mountain Battles.  Since he didn't use any digital equipment whatsoever, it was a huge learning experience for us!  We would stay up all night in this warehouse just adding stuff and cutting stuff until it sounded good.  THEN, months later, we went into The Hangar (home of Tape Op Magazine) to work with Scott McChane.  There, we did more digital recording that was later mixed to tape, and we really got to work on the nuance and arrangements a bit more.  The Hangar is a sprawling, old building full of cool instruments, so that's where we added vibraphone, harpsichord, and things like that.    I think that experimental trial and error process was really good for us because we had to think things out and also practice restraint despite having all these new options we never had before."

5. Favorite music format? Compact disc, vinyl, or mp3?
"Lauren and I both prefer vinyl, but mp3s sure are handy when you're on the road."

6. Favorite album of the moment?
"Joanna Newsom's 'Have One On Me'"

7. What's next for Agent Ribbons?
"Well, a lot of things.  We're touring Europe through early December, then we'll be home for a week before we fly to the west coast and do a handful of shows in California.  We have a feature in the December issue of BUST Magazine, and then in Jan/Feb we're going to try and work on some new material before touring Scandinavia in March, and then the SXSW festival!  We're hoping to tour the U.S. again in May 2011."

Album design:
The concept of Chateau Crone's art contains a heavy dose of DIY culture. The album booklet is a scrapbook of sorts for a hypothetical Chateau Crone, which is a collaborative space of love and support for all aging crones (man or woman).

The artwork contains various illustrations of different rooms in Chateau Crone from the fantasies of seemingly random individuals. The handwritten descriptions of said rooms give a friendly, intimate touch.

Last, but not least...call me a 5 year old, but I was pretty psyched when I realized there was a temporary tattoo of the Chateau Crone bird-woman illustration. Nicely done, ladies, nicely done.

(Disclaimer: This album was given to me for free by the lovely people at Antenna Farm Records) 
Next Up:
Guest Post by Betsy Lee! The Antivillains, So Much For Romance