Abby Travis | GlitterMouth

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GlitterMouth

by Abby Travis

Glitter Rock Dark Cabaret Trip Hop
Genre: Rock: Glam
Release Date: 

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1. Now Was
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4:39 $0.99
2. Grace
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3:47 $0.99
3. Blythe
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5:08 $0.99
4. Hunger
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3:44 $0.99
5. Shoot For The Stars
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2:14 $0.99
6. La Petite Mort
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4:39 $0.99
7. Chase Me
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4:23 $0.99
8. Past, Present, and Future
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3:47 $0.99
9. Roberto
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2:41 $0.99
10. So Far Away
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
“My last album was rather dark and intellectual,” Abby Travis reflects. “This one comes more from the pelvis.”

The Los Angeles singer-songwriter, bassist and underground fashion icon is referring to her new release, GlitterMouth, an intoxicating amalgam of glam-rock, trip-hop, soul and cabaret.

In addition to serving as the principal author of all of the songs (except the Shangri-Las cover “Past, Present & Future”), Travis sang lead and background vocals, played bass and a handful of other instruments, and produced, engineered and mixed the lion’s share of GlitterMouth. “I know, I know,” she confesses with a silvery laugh, “I have trouble delegating sometimes.”

Despite her admitted “control freak” tendencies, Travis was assisted not only by longtime co-conspirators like keyboardist Kristian Hoffman (The Mumps, Klaus Nomi) and guitarist Dave Bongiovanni (El Vez) but by such special guests as hip-hop studio wizard Lamont Hyde (Dr. Dre), Cocteau Twins mastermind Simon Raymonde, Meat Puppets guitar icon Curt Kirkwood, punk trailblazers Alice Bag and Teresa Covarrubias, L7’s Donita Sparks and former Save Ferris vocalist Monique Powell.

Travis’ previous album, Cutthroat Standards & Black Pop, which earned praise from the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the LA Weekly and numerous other publications, primarily showcased her mordant wit and way with a smoky ballad. GlitterMouth offers a more comprehensive view of her breathtaking musical range – and explores entirely new emotional territory.

Kicking off with the shimmering glam epic “Now Was,” with its reflective yearning, the album finds Travis exploring Bowie-esque avant-funk (“Hunger”), swooning soul (“Grace,” “La Petit Mort,” “Chase Me,” “Roberto”), tantalizing torch songs (“Blythe”) and even shtetl-friendly shtick (the playful oom-pah pastiche “Shoot for the Stars”). Meanwhile, on “Past, Present and Future,” a bizarre mid-’60s monologue of disillusionment, Travis strikes an impressive balance between camp and gravitas.

Travis’ stylistic flexibility is mirrored by her vocal versatility. She can segue from husky-voiced chanteuse to diva at the drop of a hat, and animates the ravished lovers, dejected ex-romantics and cockeyed optimists of her songs with both power and subtlety.

“I wanted GlitterMouth to be as easily enjoyed by the casual listener as by the obsessive,” she remarks. “With Cutthroat you really had to pay attention. You can listen to this one just as closely, and notice cool little production touches and clever lyrics. But you can also just put it on and enjoy it as party music.”

Her collaboration with Hyde marked Travis’ first foray into soul music. “Working in the trip-hop genre allowed me to explore my sexuality a bit more than I have in the past,” she points out. “R&B lends itself to the sensualist vibe I wanted, so that was part of the appeal: Can I be bold enough to throw down my sexuality in a song without masking it with my intellect?”

At the same time, Travis insists, “One of the reasons it works is that I still sing like me. I’m not going to pretend to be Whitney Houston or something.”

For all its visceral impact and erotic frisson, however, GlitterMouth does afford Travis the opportunity to wax philosophical – especially about the passage of time. “‘Now Was’ is sort of about how you grow up in rock and roll,” she relates. “I’m old enough now that I can look back at certain parts of my life and choose to feel regret or be happy about how things went. But most thoughtful adults reach the point where they ask, ‘Is this as good as it gets?’ I’m not a 22-year-old ingénue anymore, though I still have my youthful looks. At the same time, I don’t want to lose the childlike aspects of my personality, the joy of rock and roll. I hope to remain childlike but not as childish.”

Two GlitterMouth songs, “Grace” and “Blythe,” were selected for the WB TV series High School Reunion before the album was even complete. “Hunger,” “Now Was” and “Chase Me,” have earned airplay on L.A. station Indie 103.1; “Past Present and Future” was played on Rodney Bingenheimer’s show on KROQ.

Travis recorded the disc amid a whirlwind of other activities, including playing bass for the Bangles and for Go-Go Kathy Valentine, appearing in the play The Strip (as an incarcerated country singer with amnesia, naturally) and serving as impresario, booker, hostess, promoter, performer and street team for the celebrated L.A. club night Mata Hari, which featured such guest artists as Ann Magnuson, Jane Wiedlin, Mink Stole and Rebekah Del Rio, among many others.

Indeed, she has amassed quite a roster of musical friends since her heady late-’80s days as a teen bassist in the seminal L.A. band The Love Dolls, after which she became an in-demand player, backing up Elastica and Beck in back-to-back sets at Lollapalooza ’95 and supporting acts as diverse as Exene Cervenka, Michael Penn, KMFDM, Butthole Surfers singer Gibby Haynes, Vanessa Paradis and Spinal Tap. She was also house bassist at the riotous, gender-blending Club Makeup, where she could relied upon to enliven everything from an evening of Queen covers to a set by Dee Dee Ramone or a phalanx of warbling, bespangled drag queens. She also appeared in a slew of independent films, including Shadow Hours, Weathermen 69 and The Book of Manson. She wrote, performed, produced and released her first solo disc, The Abby Travis Foundation, in 1998.

Travis toured extensively in support of 2002’s Cutthroat Standards & Black Pop, showcasing a wardrobe worthy of a matinee idol (memorialized in Rocky Schenk’s sumptuous photos, several of which adorn the GlitterMouth package) and helping to popularize the fledging alternative-cabaret subgenre. “It was harder to find other acts to share a bill with back then,” she says. “Now there are a lot more. I’m beginning to feel less like a scene of one.”



Praise for Abby Travis



“ … a torchy lounge diva … Beatlesque pop.” — Los Angeles Times

“ … a Brecht-Weill epiphany.” — Washington Post

“Imagine a smoky, mid-1920s speakeasy, a shapely alto crooning ironic love songs as she drapes herself along the length of the piano. Then she kicks you in the nuts.” — Philadelphia Citypaper

“ … a kind of fantastic take on lust and predatory sexual behavior.” — LA Weekly

“The [songs on GlitterMouth] have complex pedigrees, yet the music – particularly such trip-hop-flecked tracks as the airily soulful ‘Grace’ and the erotically obsessive ‘Le Petit Mort’ – feels more contemporary than anything [Travis has] done…. The irony is sharp as a bodkin.” — L.A. CityBeat

“Impress your friends when Abby Travis gets big 10 months from now.” — Alternative Press

“This sultry songstress is redefining retro-cool.” — Request

“A mixture of elegant melodicism and brooding melancholy, underscored with a touch of rock’s glamour and snarl.” — Portland Oregonian

“ … an artist who’s got the goods.” — Sacramento News & Review

“Conjuring images of mink sliding from bare shoulders and a dead-dry martini in a chromium-plated cocktail bar, her music is sweet as poison. The production is flawless…. Remarkable in every way, and highly recommended.” — Mean Street

“She’s one of those artists who can do anything – like other weird, uncommercial acts such as Madonna or Prince. Got vision? Get her.” — HITS

“A black skewer thrown into the heart of a passing lover…. If you want something that isn’t a cookie cutter of the albums you picked up last week, then [Cutthroat Standards] may just be the soul tonic you’ve been craving.” — Entertainment Today

“With her wondrous, smoky voice, whip-smart lyrical ability and warm gentility, she creates an ethereal yet commanding stage presence.” — Flavorpill

“L.A.’s Abby Travis occupies a category of one…. GlitterMouth is a sleek affair that demonstrates her mastery of glam-rock tropes while stirring in slinky R&B, torchy ballads and off-Broadway broadsides. ‘Now Was,’ a stunningly ambitious tune about the ravages of time … explodes into one gloriously melodic section after another as she harmonizes with herself and lays down one of the hottest bass lines ever.” — Editorializing


Reviews


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Michael Holloway

Glitter Mouth is a sparkling diamond with many facets!
Abby Travis' new album Glitter Mouth is a beautiful and intriguing collection of mostly original songs by an artist who effortlessly combines new wave rock with the classic sensibilities of a Classical Hollywood chanteuse. Even with a cover of The Shangri-La's Past, Present, and Future, and an updated version of Abby's own So Far Away from her previous album Cut Throat Standards And Black Pop, Abby serves up a delectable blend of spicy yet sweet, bold but breathtaking, and does it all with her uniquely haunting vocals. Abby seems to channel the sultry and evocative Marlene Dietrich, but does so in her own inimitable style.

Abby has the uncanny ability to turn even the most complicated sounding lyric into a seamless and fluid vocalisation. For example, "I'm not condoning such whining and moaning, but still you gotta wonder sometimes when solitude's your only friend..." from her first track Now Was might just tongue-tie a less skillful vocalist, but Abby performs the line brilliantly and infuses the song with such poignancy and heartfelt honesty, and avoids sounding self-piteous because of the supreme intelligence of the lyrics.

Grace combines a serene main vocal with a more upbeat backing vocal which blends perfectly with the song, but Blythe is the most sparkling diamond on an album laden with gems. "Yet my love for you will never fade, like these past couple of months and the memories of mistakes we made, and my love for you will never fade, you took me somewhere where I wouldn't have dared, you saved me babe..." is a soaring refrain which would give even the stoniest heart a much needed jolt. It's impossible to listen to Abby Travis without feeling some emotion.

Hunger is a sultry song to start with, but turns into a fantastic rocker with the main chorus taking on a life all it's own. The guitars and bass lines make the surging energy of the song with its "insatiable thrust of the driest lusts' gale..." truly scorching.

Shoot For The Stars is a delightful "oom-pa-pa" flavoured song which will have you dancing or at least moving somehow - it's impossible to listen to this song and stay still. The groove just takes you on a "Red Shoes" inspired dance that will leave you wanting more.

La Petite Mort is another gem that sustains you with its love and a stunningly new wave musical composition that would work alone as a fantastic instrumental piece, but is thankfully blessed with Abby's divine vocal. Chase Me and Roberto are also beautiful ballads, but there is something special about La Petite Mort that makes it truly sublime.

Past, Present, And Future is a lovely and poetic spoken verse song that, if I hadn't alread known it was a Shangri-La's song, I would have swron it had come from Abby's own soul as she gives it a personal resonance that you don't often hear in covers, no matter how good they are. However, when Abby says to a former love "just don't try and touch me, because that will never happen again..." you can feel the pain and longing of a relationship now over, wanting more, but knowing that it is time to move on.

While I admittedly prefer Abby's So Far Away as it appeared on her previous album, the new version is quite compelling too, even with the uptempo sound and sound effects that might not give the newer version an instantly emotional appeal as the earlier version, but it's still pleasing.

For anyone who loves beautiful music with an edge, Abby Travis' Glitter Mouth will leave you with a desire for more, and a spirit lifted into the realms of the ethereal. Just try listening to the album and not feeling cleansed by its beauty, it isn't possible.

Milo


For those of you who know Abby Travis only as a member of Elastica, The Love Dolls, KMFDM and The Bangles, Listen up!
This CD shows her surprising versatility in not only songwriting, This album draws on many sources and styles for its’ inspiration.
Abby Travis as a pop Diva with her uniquely cool, steamy vocals and multi-instrumental prowess provide a refreshing and entertaining Twenty-First Century Gothic Cabaret that is all hers.
All you have to do is come inside!

Bill Lopez

Glittermouth is Golden
She might be the best singer you're not listening to, but Abby Travis deserves your attention. Her most recent album, 'Glittermouth' isn't exactly new. It was released last year, but since it's an indie effort in the truest sense, not nearly enough ears have heard it. There are some who might consider her music an acquired taste, considering it's mix of Cabaret and glam rock, but it's always well crafted, full of wit and considerable style.

The rock side of her musical personality is more muted here, with the exception of the spirited glam-funk workout, 'Hunger'. With it's breathy, come-hither intro, I must admit I was expecting a return to the dark glory of Cutthroat Songs, her previous album, but when the song kicks in, it's an exciting moment.

Unfortunately, the song's lyric doesn't quite match the music's intensity. Considering her gift with words it's one of the rare letdowns on the album. The other would be the romantic ballad 'Roberto'. It features a beautiful arrangement, and a sexy, alluring vocal, but the lyric feels unfinished. The remaining songs are among her best work.

With it's subtle, jazz inflected shifts, and self-mocking humor, 'Now Was' is one her finest songs. The gentle trip-hop of 'Grace' is cleansing and reassuring, even as the the song takes on the very elusiveness of the subject. 'Shoot For The Stars' is a joyous ride through the galaxy, and the somber lovelorn ballad 'Blythe' is gorgeous. The album's closer, 'Past, Present, Future' is a nod to original bad girls the Shangri-Las. The black humor of the lyric is a perfect fit for her deadpan delivery as she sings the twisted tale of love's damage.

Abby's advice is to shoot for the stars, and 'Glittermouth' is further proof that a star is what she deserves to be.

Tom

Antidote to the mundane
Tired of the musical mediocrity being force-fed to you by corporate radio, "American Idol," et al? Then get a copy of GLITTERMOUTH... and enjoy!