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Alternative & Indie - Released March 15, 2004 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 6, 2000 | Touch and Go Records

For a record produced by Guy Picciotto (Fugazi, Rites of Spring), Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons is a surprisingly quiet affair. Rarely do the cuts on Blonde Redhead's 2000 release get much louder than an electric guitar. With their fifth record, Blonde Redhead finally emerges from the shadows of Sonic Youth's post-punk legacy by avoiding the expected detunings, distortions, and shrillness of the genre. The three-piece manages to create a record that is subtle, tuneful, and sublime. On "Loved Despite of Great Faults," instrumentation mainly consists of acoustic guitar, piano, and percussion rather than an assault of power chords, yet the mood of the song is just as effective. While the record may be quieter, it still manages to move in several different directions. "This Is Not" tips its hat to Ric Ocasek with a new wave-inspired piece while the opening cut, "Equally Damaged," and "Ballad of Lemons" suggest an influence from Danny Elfman. Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons may not accurately reflect the full body of Blonde Redhead's work, yet it presents an easy place to start. © Yancey Strickler /TiVo
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23

Alternative & Indie - Released April 10, 2007 | 4AD

With each album since Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, Blonde Redhead has made huge strides forward with their sound. Misery Is a Butterfly pitted fragile melodies against dark, swirling arrangements, and its tragic glamour turned the album into a cult favorite. On 23, the band trades the cloistered chamber rock of Butterfly for tone-bending dream pop and subtle electronics; while the wide open spaces sound a little bare at first, this streamlined approach ends up making this Blonde Redhead's loveliest and most accessible work yet. The group begins each album with a bold statement of purpose, and 23 is no different. The epic title track's delicate electronic rhythms, swooping, shimmering guitars, and majestically bittersweet melody pitch it somewhere between My Bloody Valentine and Asobi Seksu, showing how a more restrained Blonde Redhead can still sound lush and haunting. "Spring and Summer by Fall"'s streaming, comet-tail guitars and "Silently"'s thorny melody hark back to Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, while "Heroine"'s vocoders sound surprisingly fresh, giving the song a fairy tale-meets-sci-fi vibe. This more whimsical, if not exactly lighthearted, feel flows through much of 23, especially on "Dr. Strangeluv," which boasts playful percussion and sparkling synths, and "Top Ranking," which layers Kazu Makino's vocals into futuristic girl group harmonies. However, Blonde Redhead hasn't ditched the brooding beauty of Misery Is a Butterfly entirely. "The Dress" is just as darkly stunning as any song on that album, with looping gasps and insistent guitars circling lyrics like "the fear starts creeping up when you have so much to lose," while "SW"'s melody and psychedelic brass interlude have a Butterfly-esque intensity. And as always, Blonde Redhead has a flair for haunting melodies, particularly on "Publisher," the chorus of which sounds peculiarly like Aerosmith's "Dream On." 23 is stunning -- in fact, its only flaw might be that its track listing is a little top-heavy, resulting in an album with an amazing first half and a flip side that is only very good. Nitpicking aside, 23 is mysterious and modern, with an artfully strange beauty that is more memorable than perfection. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 3, 2000 | Touch and Go Records

Blonde Redhead's Melodie Citronique reworks three songs from its excellent album Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons and adds two songs that highlight the group's multicultural, multilingual approach. "En Particulier" is a straightforward French translation of Lemons' dreamy "In Particular"; "Odiata Per le Sue Virtu" is "Hated Because of Great Qualities" with an Italian makeover. "Four Damaged Lemons," a remix of "For the Damaged," makes the song even more fragile and delicately lovely by adding a looped piano, brittle acoustic guitar, backwards sound effects, and chiming keyboards. The bouncy, sing-song "Chi É E Non É" sounds a bit like one of the Pixies' poppier moments sung in Italian, while the version of Serge Gainsbourg's "Slogan" suggests that his slinky, sensual style has become almost as big an influence on Blonde Redhead's sound as Sonic Youth was previously. Though it isn't quite as big a step forward for the group as Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, Melodie Citronique is an enjoyable companion piece to that album, as well as a further exploration of the group's softer side. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 13, 2010 | 4AD

Following an album as majestic and innovative as 23 would be a hefty challenge for any band, so Blonde Redhead went in a very different direction with Penny Sparkle. Intricate, volatile guitar work has been the mainstay of Blonde Redhead's work since the beginning, even when nearly everything else about their music changed. This time, Amedeo and Simone Pace and Kazu Makino pare the guitars down to a bare minimum, letting the electronic flirtations on 23 develop into a full-blown romance. Though it’s not the most drastic revision the band has made over the years -- comparing Blonde Redhead's Touch & Go output with their 4AD work is almost like hearing the work of two unrelated bands -- it’s one of the most initially jarring. Though the band had explored its more delicate side for nearly a decade by the time Penny Sparkle was released, at first, it doesn’t seem like the album’s spare beats and synths can support its melodies. With time, however, Blonde Redhead's collaboration with producers Alan Moulder and Van Rivers and the Subliminal Kid is just as rewarding in its own fine-boned way as their earlier work. “Here Sometimes” makes the most of Makino’s one-of-a-kind vocals; she still sings in a dialect all her own, hovering somewhere in between Japanese, English, French, and alien, and the song’s limpid electronics bend to her reverie. “Not Getting There” is the closest Penny Sparkle gets to a pop song, and one of the few times the guitars rise above a murmur. From there, the album just gets sparer and more experimental -- the title track is little more than Makino’s lonesome voice and a dubby beat -- but this approach suits these songs about daydreams and escape. “Love or Prison,” which sets one of the album’s most beautiful melodies afloat on arpeggiated keyboards and percussion that sounds like rattling chains, is a subtle standout; the same could be said of “Black Guitar,” a complicated love song that ranks among Blonde Redhead's finest duets. They get a little too close to trip-hop for their own good on a few songs, and their widescreen drama is missed occasionally, but Penny Sparkle is still another beautiful reinvention for Blonde Redhead. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 2, 2014 | Asawa Kuru LLC

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 8, 1998 | Touch and Go Records

The oft-used comparison to Sonic Youth doesn't really hold a lot of water, as Blonde Redhead's music has always been a bit less swirling, more spontaneous, and rougher around the edges. Further differentiating them from Sonic Youth is their bass-less approach. In an Expression of the Inexpressible, their fourth release, is as uncompromising as Fake Can Be Just as Good and La Mia Vita Violenta, but this time Blonde Redhead wanted to be produced by someone outside the band. The sound is fuller and more polished, and in the capable hands of producers John Goodmanson and Guy Picciotto (of Fugazi fame), they've never sounded quite as good. Still, Kazu Makino's high-pitched, Björk-ish vocals can get irritating at times, and the two guitars never quite reach a compelling level of interplay. Blonde Redhead, who sometimes are too clever for their own good, could, in fact, learn a great deal from Sonic Youth, since most of the tracks never come across with much urgency. [A Japanese reissue of the CD contains bonus tracks.] © Matthew Hilburn /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 3, 2017 | Asa Wa Kuru

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Rock - Released June 1, 1995 | Numero Group

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 30, 2016 | Numero Group

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 11, 1997 | Touch and Go Records

It seems like New York trio Blonde Redhead have been dogged with Sonic Youth comparisons since the day they formed years ago, taking their name from an old song by No New York faves DNA. Such yakking only grew louder when the group, then a quartet, signed with Steve Shelley's Smells Like label in 1994 for a pair of LPs, and then let the Sonic Youth drummer produce them. Three years down the road, it's a resemblance still firmly in place on Fake Can Be Just as Good, despite the group employing producer John Goodmanson and switching labels to Chicago's venerable, powerful Touch & Go. But if this stubborn outfit of two handsome Italian-Americans and a pretty Japanese-American doesn't care about being branded copycats, and it seems they don't, then neither should anyone else. Improving with each release, the solid, crashing duo of guitarists (and alternating singers) Kazu Makino and Amedeo Pace may borrow an ethic, an anti-pop stance, and atonal tension that's super-familiar, but the clean sound, direct attack, and straightforward, tense delivery are all their own. Moreover, there's plenty of room for further exploration in these dark, forbidding, tempest-ridden post-punk seas. In fact, when Makino and Pace get cold, claustrophobic, weird, wired, and chilling (with help from borrowed Unwound bassist Vern Rumsey) is when they also nearly explode in deep undercurrents: see the best things here, the quietly terrified "Symphony of Treble" and "Bipolar." And unlike 95 percent of all bands based on the New York noise tradition, Blonde Redhead never just grind like nails to chalkboards -- their well-produced sound is never annoying or unpleasant -- nor forget that music is supposed to have hooks, no matter how much it eschews obvious pop melodic conventions. Far from mere protégés of any band or scene, Blonde Redhead are a unique sub-branch all their own on a fertile tree. © Jack Rabid /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1995 | Numero Group

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Rock - Released April 29, 2016 | Numero Group

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23

Alternative & Indie - Released April 2, 2007 | 4AD

With each album since Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, Blonde Redhead has made huge strides forward with their sound. Misery Is a Butterfly pitted fragile melodies against dark, swirling arrangements, and its tragic glamour turned the album into a cult favorite. On 23, the band trades the cloistered chamber rock of Butterfly for tone-bending dream pop and subtle electronics; while the wide open spaces sound a little bare at first, this streamlined approach ends up making this Blonde Redhead's loveliest and most accessible work yet. The group begins each album with a bold statement of purpose, and 23 is no different. The epic title track's delicate electronic rhythms, swooping, shimmering guitars, and majestically bittersweet melody pitch it somewhere between My Bloody Valentine and Asobi Seksu, showing how a more restrained Blonde Redhead can still sound lush and haunting. "Spring and Summer by Fall"'s streaming, comet-tail guitars and "Silently"'s thorny melody hark back to Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, while "Heroine"'s vocoders sound surprisingly fresh, giving the song a fairy tale-meets-sci-fi vibe. This more whimsical, if not exactly lighthearted, feel flows through much of 23, especially on "Dr. Strangeluv," which boasts playful percussion and sparkling synths, and "Top Ranking," which layers Kazu Makino's vocals into futuristic girl group harmonies. However, Blonde Redhead hasn't ditched the brooding beauty of Misery Is a Butterfly entirely. "The Dress" is just as darkly stunning as any song on that album, with looping gasps and insistent guitars circling lyrics like "the fear starts creeping up when you have so much to lose," while "SW"'s melody and psychedelic brass interlude have a Butterfly-esque intensity. And as always, Blonde Redhead has a flair for haunting melodies, particularly on "Publisher," the chorus of which sounds peculiarly like Aerosmith's "Dream On." 23 is stunning -- in fact, its only flaw might be that its track listing is a little top-heavy, resulting in an album with an amazing first half and a flip side that is only very good. Nitpicking aside, 23 is mysterious and modern, with an artfully strange beauty that is more memorable than perfection. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 8, 2005 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 24, 2004 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 23, 2004 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 28, 2007 | 4AD

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Pop - Released September 14, 2018 | Asa Wa Kuru