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Listening Cap

3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 11, 1995
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Editorial Reviews

Tsunami's Jenny Toomey has one of the most expressive voices you are ever likely to wrap an ear around. She has the wistful grace of a chanteuse and the raw power to push a song through it's artistic comfort zone into someplace heartbreakingly genuine. Liquorice is a side project for Toomey--she also records with Mark Robinson of Unrest under the name Grenadine--and one that is well-suited to her gifts. Dan Littleton and Trey Many contribute instrumental and vocal support, yet Listening Cap sounds largely like Toomey's solo album. The songs are spare and uncomplicated with the spotlight trained unflinchingly on her vocal styling. As such, this record works in a big way. The name of this outfit offers a clue to its content. The songs drip with sweet, sad remembrances of bygone summer days, refracted through an older, slightly more cynical perspective. "Keeping the Weekend Free" simmers with "should-have's" and "might-have-been's" as Toomey effortlessly unites the pain of a particular time and her more detached amusement now as she recounts the hours wasted on a long-distance relationship--"You're seven digits away/why raise a fist, when you can't lift a finger." On "Jill of All Trades," Toomey moves into a very different arena with a Tori Amos/VH-1 adult contemporary piano ballad, that comes across plaintive and real rather than melodramatic. She even sounds sassy and confident on the B-52s-like, new wave throwaway "Blew It," as her vocal gusto supplies needed ballast to a lightweight tune. Liquorice gives Jenny Toomey a chance to try on some wildly different costumes, and she looks stunning in all of them. --John Chandler

1. Trump Suit
2. Team Player
3. Keeping the Weekend Free
4. Drive Around
5. Cheap Cuts
6. Trump Suit [Edit]
7. Jill of All Trades
8. No Excuses
9. Breaking the Ice
10. Blew It

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 11, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: 4ad Records/Ada
  • ASIN: B000004B9X
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #635,254 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David M. Robbins on September 10, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This is one of those "horribly underrated" albums people gripe about--this one wholly deservedly. Jenny Toomey's voice on THIS disc (not so much with her other projects: Grenadine, Tsunami, etc.) is amazingly beautiful. Her lyrics are incredibly witty and catchy, and the music is very melodic and crisply recorded. It should have been album of the year, but hardly anybody heard it.
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By Oryx on April 22, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Jenny Toomey is one of the busiest and most underrated women in the music industry. She has been in several bands, ran her own record company (Simple Machine Records) and has worked in public policy. I first heard this album after borrowing it from a former roommate who knew I liked female singer/songwriters. Fifteen years later I finally wore out the two cassette copies of Listening Cap I had so I was pleased to find the CD album on Amazon. Liquorice blends smart and sarcastic vocals with tight instrumentation to make an album that is best listened to straight through. My personal favorites are "Team Player" and "Cheap Cuts". The price is right (under $10) for this under the radar gem that still shines.
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Format: Audio CD
Liquorice was a short-lived indie pop act in the 1990s, fronted by Jenny Toomey. What attracted me to LISTENING CAP from 1995, the band's sole LP, was that it came on the 4AD label, and that it was produced by Warren Defever of His Name Is Alive, and even features HNIA's drummer of the time Trey Many on a couple of tracks. The third member of Liquorice is Dan Littleton, best known from the band Ida.

The 10 tracks here are mainly jangly, centered on guitar with touches of keyboard or electric organ, and no drums. Unfortunately, the music does little to stand out from a large number of other 1990s acts with the same arrangements. In "Trump Suit", "Drive Around", "Team Player" and "Cheap Cuts" Toomey uses an extremely repugnant vocal tone, a sort of off-key muttering. That she proves fully capable of singing with a lovely voice on "Keeping the Weekend Free" makes this listener wonder why the other tracks had to sound as bad as they did. The lyrics are not particularly insightful or memorable.

Furthermore, the way Toomey's voice is mixed makes the words fade somewhat into the background. While Warren Defever added immensely to albums like Tarnation's Gentle Creatures (not to mention the quirky noise-scapes of his own work as His Name Is Alive), his production work on this album is meh at best, botched at worst.

The arrangements and the harsh vocals remind me rather of Lisa Germano, another artist that label founder Ivo Watts-Russell signed to 4AD around the same time. If you are a fan of 4AD and actually like Lisa Germano, then you might in fact enjoy Liquorice's LISTENING CAP and should ignore this review. If you don't like Germano, then you'll want to steer clear of this album.
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