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Misery Is a Butterfly

4.3 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The band's gently mournful economy of style is adorned by a cinematic breadth of instrumentation and by arrangements of rich depth. "Misery..." is a creative leap forward from their last album, "Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons".
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 23, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: 4ad / Ada
  • ASIN: B0001EFUJ6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,467 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Cary S. Whitt on April 16, 2004
Format: Audio CD
You know those records that catch a band at their peak? The ones that come around where the planets are aligned and all is right in your world? It has happened to a lot of artists: Pavement's - Crooked Rain Crooked Rain, U2's - Joshua Tree and even something like Blur's - Parklife. Now I'm not comparing Misery is a Butterfly to those, just simply drawing a look to what is happening with the latest Blonde Redhead release. I really feel that this record is what they've been striving to achieve for some time now, the timing is indeed right. The planets are lining up and the music snobs are coming around as well.
It is a beautiful record. The arrangements are lush the vocals are unique and well-mixed. The lyrics are thoughful and engaging. One can sense the craft that went into such a piece of work. My favorite tunes off Misery are the first two. Esp. the haunting, The Messenger, it has such style and grace, you'll be hooked from the opening bars.
It is hard to classify this record into a genre - but if I had to do it, I would throw it somewhere in the arena of lush-indie. The strings they use are more present and they really sound great throughout. They switch up singers to a nice flow. They use classical breaks and bridges one might find at an opera. There are a lot of things going on, all good.
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Format: Audio CD
I knew nothing of Blonde Redhead before I read a music review in a local free paper this year, and it interested me enough to visit the label's website and try an MP3 of the title track to this album. I went out and bought the album, and what a pleasant discovery it was.

Blonde Redhead is composed of Kazu Makino and twins Amadeo and Simone Pace. They create a sound often compared to Sonic Youth (especially their early, more unstructured sound), but since this is the only full album of theirs I've heard, I can't help but compare them with Radiohead.

Probably BR's most eclectic part, and some would argue their weakest link, is their vocals. If you remember the first time you heard Radiohead's Thom Yorke or Jane's Addiction's Perry Farrell, or even Geddy Lee of Rush, some vocalists are at first challenging to the ear, and then become rewarding over time. The often whiny vocals of Amadeo Pace and Kazu Makino's breathy, narrow range certainly fall into that category. But like the other vocalists I mentioned, if you listen further you'll find their vocals suit the music quite well in their own way. Pace's vocals have an honest, charming style with more than a tinge of angst, while Makino has a disarming, ethereal, atmospheric style that really sets off their moodier material.

And this album is quite moody. It's where the comparisons to Radiohead become evident. The theme of this record is framed around the band's turmoil of the last few years, after Makino was seriously injured in a fall from a horse, and the Pace brothers decided on an unofficial, semi-working hiatus while she recovered.
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Format: Audio CD
Blonde Redhead is one of many bands I found on various 'so you want to get into indie' lists and downloaded essentially at random. Now I must state in advance that I am no afficionado in regards to the styles of music this fairly vague genre encompasses, and that I also have not been very impressed by most of the bands I have heard. However there can be no mistake... Misery is a Butterfly is beautiful music.

This album is designed to hit nerves, hard. Every melody is crafted with intent and deliberation, and the progressions are largely orchestral in nature - many moments in this album bring to mind the melodramatic chord pivots of pieces written by Beethoven. Amadeo's voice conjures Thom Yorke post-back alley beating, crying for mercy and a little humanity, please. Kazu's voice provides a ghostly, exhausted alternative to the self-absorbtion of Amedeo. They work in concert beautifully.

Almost any song on Misery is a Butterfly could be considered a highlight without much of a stretch. It opens with the deeply sentimental, meloncholic "Elephant Woman," which brings to mind all the saddest moments in a Benji film. The longing rhodes piano and tentative, loping snare drum of "Melody" is a haunting, cynical look through an old shoebox of things you forgot about long ago and maybe didn't want to remember. "Falling Man" is another highlight (but where are the lowlights?), with one of the most bent tearjerk melodies in recent memory. "Doll Is Mine" is the furious protest of someone who is obviously far too disadvantaged to do anything about what is plagueing them. "Maddening Clovd" is clearly the climax of this record, although not necessarily the last good song; It provides a high energy, hopeful beam of light at the end of the tunnel.
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Format: Audio CD
Although they have taken a wide turn away from their previous material with their new album, Misery is a Butterfly, the band has finally managed to step completely out of the shadow of Sonic Youth and to solidify their identity as one with a wholly unique and defining sound.
Blonde Redhead is comprised of Italian twins Amedeo and Simone Pace, and Kazu Makino, who skipped out of Kyoto, Japan to arrive in the states during the early '90s. The group has put out several albums, including their self-titled debut Blonde Redhead, La Mia Vita Violenta, and Fake Can Be Just as Good. Their last release before Misery was Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, which showcased maturation and a promise of good things to come. Well, kids, good things have come indeed.
Assumingly correlated with their switch from the label Smells Like Records to 4AD, the band has shed the beat up leather jacket of punk rock for a more gossamer cloak of floating strings, soft arpeggios, and ever-present synthesizers. But the softness isn't without an edge. Like smeared lipstick, the beauty comes with the tense, mildly dirty quality that's been present in Blonde Redhead's music since their beginning.
The first single off of the album is the first track, "Elephant Woman." Beatles-esque cello and rhythmic chamber melodies roll and waver behind Makino's signature plaintive vocals. Sweet and mysterious enough to put a knot in the belly, this track sets the album's tone from the beginning.
Other noteworthy tracks include "Maddening Cloud" and "Equus." Characterized by a head swaying beat and Rhodes-like keyboard melodies, "Maddening Cloud" again showcases the vocal talents and contemplative lyrics of Kazu. "Why did you kill that poor old man, Melody?
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