Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Library Book Sale CD Trove XIII

Even now reviewing my CD finds from half-price day at the Friends of the Multnomah County Library Annual Booksale.

Disappear Fear

Disappear Fear was a rock act fronted by two sisters that was popular with the Women's Studies crowd during the early 90s. It's possible you remember their most popular song, "Deep Soul Diver," a simple but pretty pop tune with a little bit of atmospheric edge to it.
This eponymous album was, I believe, their second, and I was one of the limited number of male people in the audience when they toured in support of it in 1995. It was a terrific show, very entertaining, and I had the pleasure of talking with Sonia Rutstein -- the one on the right on the album cover, albeit with more clothes on -- for a minute or two afterwards. She was quirky and charming, and signed the T-shirt I had bought oddly. "Oh, I sign my name backwards," she explained when I asked. "It's so I don't get conceited about it."

I kept, and occasionally still listen to, the first two tracks ("Washington Work Song" and "Who's So Scared") on a mix tape (remember those, kids?). They are good tunes with amiable rhythms and tight harmonies, the group's strength. Both are also songs of political opinion, the first about, hmm, the inadequacy of the Federal government's response to social problems, the second about the pain caused by people's prejudice against those of other ethnicities, religions, sexual preferences, and so on.

And thus we come to what was arguably Disappear Fear's Achilles' heel: their music was more than a little didactic, sung beautifully to a fan base that pretty much already agreed with them on every particular and was quick to forgive the simplistic look at political life urged in the lyrics. This made their shows reasonably inspiring to the like-minded, but inevitably put a cap on their potential audience as well.

Well, nothing wrong artists wearing ideology on their sleeves. What I find on relistening, though, is that I was write to pluck "Washington Work Song" and "Who's So Scared" out of their context. The rest is by and large more of the same, but not as good. A few experiments with style have mixed results, with the reggae song ("Dance All Night," I think) being a too-obvious attempt to sing like Bob Marley. "Is There Anybody Here," an anti-military manifesto, is every bit as wince-worthy in its easy, vastly generalizing surity as is any "Support Our Troops" bumper sticker.

Prognosis: See if you can download "Washington Work Song," "Who's So Scared," and "Deep Soul Diver," and you're pretty much set for Disappear Fear. If that leaves you wanting more, I'll send you the CD.


d said...

egads. this sounds truly terrible.

UnwiseOwl said...

How is it that you always seem to have been at these concerts? Do you have such a limitless concert budget that can afford to go to the shows of each and every band that visits your home town?

Michael5000 said...

@d: Well, I didn't pick out the most flattering aspects. But knowing a little of your musical taste, I'm comfortable saying this won't please it.

@Owl: The careful lifelong practice of contraception frees up some time and money that might otherwise be thrown away on the care and nurturing of children.

UnwiseOwl said...

Well played, M5000. Well played.

Dug said...

I don't know if I'm the only one, but I originally read the following part "albeit with more clothes on -- for a minute or two afterwards" as meaning she only kept her clothes on for a moment or two. I assume that's not how you meant it although you always did have a certain charm with the ladies.