Self-deprecation is worth its weight in smoldering phoenix-ashes and baby unicorn tears.
or; the most gruesome band out there makes your skin peel.
Published on November 27, 2007 By SanChonino In Music


By: Made Out of Babies

Year: 2006

It seems that most female rock vocalists fall into three categories.

One is the whiny, petulant voice, featured in so many pop-rock or alternative rock bands, that sounds so much like every other voice on the radio, telling you about how hard her life is, or how hot she thinks you are, ad nauseum, forever and ever amen.

The second is the power vocalist, star of just about every metal band with a female front – you know the type. This is the Amy Lee, the Cristina Scabbia, or all those obscure singers for bands like Nightwish, Stream of Passion, or After Forever. Now don't get me wrong, these are good bands, with lots of great songs and girls who can really belt it. But they all sound the same after awhile.

Then there's the third category. These are few and far between, but there are some female vocalists who grunt like their male death-metal counterparts. These are kind of scary ones, like the lead singer of OTEP or the crazy gals of Kittie.

The fascinating thing about Julie Christmas, lead singer of both Made Out of Babies and Battle of Mice, is that she can't really be classified into any of these. She's far from the typical pop princess, but she also doesn't have any of the sound of those power vocalists or crazy grunters. She is wholly unique.

And wholly, utterly psychotic.

Without her, the music of this album would probably rate a “pretty cool”. It's got some good hooks, and it's pretty grungy, mean, and in-your-face. But it's ultimately her scary vocals that make this album the powerhouse of wickedly grotesque rock that it is. She alternates between the voice of a scared fifteen-year-old, the belting of a twisted twenty-something, and screams of visceral strength, that seem to rend this CD end to end.

To show us just how in-your-face “Coward” is, the opening track Silverback begins with her scream, devoid of any other music, which degenerates into a panting yell, in time with the music but still more than a little disconcerting. And even with that mean-spirited opening, you're still ill-prepared for the aural onslaught you'll be subject to for the next thirty-eight minutes.

And that, ultimately, is the disc's weakness – it feels far too short, and ends long before you'll want it to. It's painfully heavy, but unpretentious; it's amazingly visceral, but necessarily adroit. The music is the perfect compliment to her scary, scary voice – it echoes she same psychosis. Add to that the lovingly creepy cover (an actual picture of the drummer following a car accident as a child), and this album just scares the bejudies out of you.

In short, this is an album that, after listening to it, you'll wish you'd heard it sooner.

Tracks to catch: Silverback – as stated in the article, this one starts and doesn't let go, presenting exactly what you're about to suffer. Proud to Drown – the “single”, if you can call it that (since you'll never hear this on the radio), with mean interspersed male and female vocals, without suffering the pretense of most so-called “Beauty and the Beast”-style vocals (mostly because, let's be frank, Julie Christmas is the Beast as well as the Beauty). Out – a continuation of the short outro of their first album, it's a loud, achy ballad about who-knows-what – but rings with musical clarity anyway. Gunt – the album closer, and probably the ugliest song on the album – leaves you wanting so, so much more.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Julie Christmas is an inventive female vocalist; someone who breaks the norms, and who refuses to be pigeonholed. She alone earns this album the rating it gets, it being her most eviscerating demonstration of what this girl can do. I'm tempted to up the rating of this album to a 5, but it's not quite “iconic” status. Perhaps a nice 4.3 would best sum up what this disc and this crazy band has to offer.

She's completely psychotic, but in the very best sense possible of the word.

on Nov 27, 2007
I rarely read music reviews online and even fewer induce me to buy something but I may actually pick this up. Thanks.
on Nov 27, 2007
Makes me want to bang my head against a wall...still.

What about singers such as Fiona Apple, Norah Jones, Heather Findlay, etc? Granted, not all are rock, but that is another type of voice, and Heather DID sing in a rock album...ha!
on Nov 27, 2007
I have to agree.  Seriously psycho-freaky-cool thing going on with Julie Christmas.  I liked this album more than I thought I would, though something about it keeps me from coming back too often.  Still, and interesting bit of music to be sure.