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Rasputina
FRUSTRATION PLANTATION
(Instinct)
Stars graphics

You might think that playing rock music with cellos instead of guitars or keyboards would meet any bandís required oddball-shtick quotient. But for Melora Creager, the leader of Rasputina, unusual instrumentation is not enough ó the songs have to be weird too. The trioís fourth full-length CD isnít quite a concept album, but many of the tracks share a skewed vision of the ante-bellum South. The titles "My Captivity by Savages," "Saline the Salt Lake Queen," and "Momma Was an Opium Smoker" give some sense of the loopiness on display; songs about broken rotator cuffs ("Oh Injury") and an old man devoted to his cow ("Wicked Dickie") add to an already peculiar picture. For comic relief from the comic relief, thereís a cover of "If Your Kisses Canít Hold the Man You Love," which was previously associated with old-time chanteuse Sophie Tucker; Creagerís yowling vocal here recalls Jack White (or better, Robert Plant). What keeps it all from crossing into novelty-act territory is Rasputinaís mixture of goth grimness and campy exuberance. As the gloriously heavy "Possum of the Grotto" demonstrates, Creager and company sure know how to make cellos rock.

BY MAC RANDALL


Issue Date: April 2 - 8, 2004
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