Julie Christensen & Stone Cupid | Where the Fireworks Are

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Where the Fireworks Are

by Julie Christensen & Stone Cupid

There's a seventies folk-rock bent to these songs addressing the state of a world out of balance. "--a collection.spanning the emotional spectrum. It provides an evocative musical chariot for Christensen to weave her vocal magic." -Brett Leigh-Dicks
Genre: Folk: Folk-Rock
Release Date: 

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1. Well Enough Julie Christensen and Stone Cupid
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2. Something Pretty Julie Christensen and Stone Cupid
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3. Where the Fireworks Are Julie Christensen and Stone Cupid
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4. Shipbuilding Julie Christensen and Stone Cupid
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5. Have a Pretty Dream Julie Christensen and Stone Cupid
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6. The Meteor Julie Christensen and Stone Cupid
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7. Boy in Pain Julie Christensen and Stone Cupid
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8. I Think It's Going to Rain Today Julie Christensen and Stone Cupid
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9. Psycho Killer Julie Christensen and Stone Cupid
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10. Rapture Index = 0 Julie Christensen and Stone Cupid
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11. She Melted Julie Christensen and Stone Cupid
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12. Woodstock Julie Christensen and Stone Cupid
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13. One More Song Julie Christensen and Stone Cupid
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Album Notes
Julie Christensen continues on her new path and creative quest, with a new album out and a new burst of activity. Her voice found a home in the L.A. post-punk band Divine Horsemen and, for years, as a spotlighted singer with Leonard Cohen. With the 2006 release Something Familiar, she added another genre feather to the cap: jazz.
Now, she has freshly finished a more typically personal brew of pop, soul, rock and artful lyrics, Where the Fireworks Are. She has been previewing the long labored-over CD at various venues. Joining her is her group Stone Cupid, with keyboardist/creative cohort Karen Hammack, guitarist Joe Woodard, drummer Tom Lackner, and bassists Steve Nelson or Jack Joshua.
Where the Fireworks Are is Christensen’s most ambitious solo album to date. It may be also be the most topical, with songs addressing the state of a world out of balance. It features mostly original tracks, sprinkled with uniquely retooled covers, including Elvis Costello’s “Shipbuilding” and Randy Newman’s "I Think it's Going to Rain Today", and David Byrne’s “Psycho Killer.”
Christensen, with Hammack in tow, did some of the basic tracks in Brooklyn with noted jazz drummers Jeff Ballard and Kenny Wollesen, and has decamped for much of the subsequent tracking and overdub work at the Tompound in Santa Barbara, along with other studios. The list of musical collaborators includes Lackner, Woodard, and Steve Nelson, pedal steel players Greg Liesz and Bill Flores, guitarist Buckethead, keyboardist Dave Palmer, saxist Tom Buckner, and multi-instrumentalist and singer Kenny Edwards.
Christensen’s first solo album should have been released in 1990, after she worked on it with producer Todd Rundgren at his Bearsville studio. Alas, the album got caught up in record company snafus and it has remained on the shelves all these years. Meanwhile, Christensen took the DIY route and made two fine albums, Love is Driving (1997) and Soul Driver (2001), on her own Stone Cupid label.
Among Christensen’s present musical activities, her connection to Leonard Cohen’s world continues, as a featured member of the Cohen tribute projects produced by Hal Willner. The tribute’s Sydney Opera House concerts became the core of the acclaimed documentary, Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man, featuring Christensen and her longtime ally (and fellow Ojai-an) Perla Batalla on the classic Cohen song “Anthem.”
The Willner-produced concert series, dubbed Came So Far for Beauty, had two more performances in Dublin, Ireland last October, where Julie participated, singing a duet with Lou Reed, and joined a cast including Laurie Anderson, Nick Cave, Beth Orton, Jarvis Cocker and many others. When Reed performed a special concert at UCSB’s Campbell Hall later that same month, Christensen sat in on the song, “Joan of Arc,” and easily won the crowd’s affection.
The ink on Where the Fireworks Are is still wet, the mixes moist, and the new music fresh and warm and ready for a healthy life. Christensen continues her forward motion.
On the web:

"From the heart-wrenching title track, which serves up an aching does of harsh reality, to the cascading piano that drives the plaintive “Something Pretty,” Where the Fireworks Are is a collection of songs spanning the emotional spectrum. It provides an evocative musical chariot for Christensen to weave her vocal magic." (Brett Leigh-Dicks) VC REPORTER

"Julie Christensen is one of the truer singers you’ll ever hear — straight up, no mannerisms, perfect taste...She's got an engraver's way of etching/buffing a lyric. Listen to her takes on “But Beautiful,” “Stolen Moments” and “Blame It on My Youth,” from her piercing new Something Familiar, and recognize how she could sing with both Leonard Cohen and Chris D."
(Greg Burk) L.A. WEEKLY


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thanatos and eros
June 29, 2008
By "Whit Waltman" (Santa Barbara, CA)
Thanatos and Eros pull at each other, not only on the world stage but in our individual minds. The classical pair are the points of a dilemma that few of us know how to bear or integrate. Yet we feel the hand of each in the secret recesses of our motives and the aftermath of our actions. Both have their pleasures, their perversions, their obscenity. Both have fireworks. Julie Christensen, with her talented supporting musicians and writers, has crafted an up-to-date, artistically mature, poetic, and urgent edition of that genre of perennial necessity: the anti-war album. The pleasures of this music are deep, and this album deserves a careful listening to follow its circuit and experience its facets. Here are wonderfully inventive originals, and an intriguing sequence of covers from Elvis Costello, Randy Newman, David Byrne and Joni Mitchell. You get the sense this project has deep roots, aspects gestating for as long as Julie has been singing. Add to that the pleasure of the clear recording, balanced mixing, and the solidity of Christensen stalwarts like Tom Lackner, Joe Woodard and Tom Buckner (Headless Household), and Karen Hammack.
This is not a 20-something's "Hell no! We won't go!" sort of protest album. To be sure, there is edgy anger here, but there is also poignancy, fantasy, despair, grief, madness. There is life. There is all the conviction and presence one would expect of the mother of a 15 year old son whose country is wastefully and foolishly at war. The gorgeous and heart-breaking ballad near the beginning, "Something Pretty", voices a sanity-clinging resolve to "make something pretty" when the world is crashing down in madness around one. When one is too small to speak truth to power, or have an effect, one can at least grace that smallness in dignity, and so stage a personal revolt against despair. Costello's "Shipbuilding" explores the euphemisms and disguised purposes of defense contractors in small town USA. "Boy in Pain" faces up to PTSS, and centers on a Seymour Hersh quotation from a soldier's mother, "I gave you a good boy, and you sent me back - a murderer!" Byrne's "Psycho Killer" is newly rendered here with quiet passion and dreamy slowness. In the context of the album, one is reminded that all war is serial killing. And one is reminded, too, of the thanatos/eros conflict of the serial killer. But that theme is best covered in the belligerent, caustic and raunchy title tune, "Where The Fireworks Are." This gutsy rocker voices the angry indignation of the Feminine (I kept thinking of Kali - the fierce mother-goddess) over the hypocrisy of upholding fertility and bounty through the death-dealing of war. In a page right out of Freud, this song suggests that men who build the war machine are foolishly seeking compensation for their love failures. They go for the kaboom of bombs because they have failed to find where the true fireworks are - "between my thighs." No sooner had I been thinking about this song, then I came across this passage from psychedelic missionary Myron J. Stolaroff:
"I now knew that this is what we all hungered for, were desperate for. It is the lack of it that drives us into all sorts of excesses. Desperately wanting it, but pretending it is not important, we strive for mastery, for status, to be powerful, to control, to fight wars -- anything but admit our crying need for the comfort of this feminine essence."
If "Where The Fireworks Are" puns of c(o)unt(ry), the most developed pun on the album comes in the other upbeat kicker "Rapture Index = 0". The title refers to the indicator, in evangelical circles (with sadly side-tracked theology) of the coming End Times. The song is a preachy warning (complete with choir and martial snare drum) to Dubya (implied) to keep politics and theology apart. `Rapture index' becomes "wrapped yer index finger on the trigger" -- a tongue-in-cheek satire that is, at the same time, a serious call for the constitutional separation of church and state. There are many other great moments on this album, like Julie's tribute to Joni Mitchell with "Woodstock" (with some grinding-good guitar licks by JW), the poetically brief and understated "She Melted" (where the listener feels as cut short as the life lamented), and the affirmative ending "One More Song." If Christensen intones hope in the end, it isn't because she has purchased it cheaply, or sings it only from the neck up. Julie Christensen has done something more than `make something pretty' with this album. She has made something beautiful. Not the light beauty of surfaces and smiles and flowers and noon, but the dark beauty of depth, heart, grief and longing. If her dreams about a world without war flash through her mind (as she confesses) like meteors, we should be glad that this one hit ground and made a sound for the rest of us.

Joseph Miller