Wednesday, February 8, 2012


The Glass Menageries reflect us all.

“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice,
“without pictures or conversations?”
--Charles Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Good literature is a conversation: between the author and the characters or the author and the subject but best is one that draws readers into a conversation with themselves. Comprised of literary and thoughtful folk, The Glass Menageries (Tennessee Williams, anyone?) invite you to converse while you sway to inspired dreampop that paints divine mind pictures.

Some tracks from debut EP Edge of a Knife are inspired by favorite authors. Most notably, “Only Ones” takes lyrics verbatim from Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita and narrator/protagonist Humbert Humbert. “We even used some of his French,” laughs Gena Lawson (vocals, keyboard, guitar) whose day job as a schoolteacher opens tween minds to new thoughts and, yes, conversation. Like good literature --and echoing the delicate yet revealing nature of mirrors and the risk of seven years bad luck residing therein-- “Fingerstring” encourages one to step beyond self-imposed limits.

photo by Mark Castillo

A couple of years ago en route to the feminist art and music Titwrench festival, Lawson met Mauro Kemmerer (vocals, keyboards and guitar). They recognized many similarities in their musical tastes (Cocteau Twins, The Cure, Brian Eno) and vowed to work together. Kemmerer, according to her mother,  has been singing since she was seven months old. Being in Catholic school choir, she says, “taught me how to listen to other people and myself as a whole.”  A skilled multitasker, Kemmerer also fronts Animals In The Dark, is one of The Five Star Motelles and solos as Lady Uranium.

Her brother Brahm Woody (bass) also sang choir. Inspired by their dad’s extensive record collection he listened intently to everything from Pink Floyd to the Cats soundtrack while providing percussion on a mac n’ cheese box. “There’s a generosity to his playing” says Lawson that allows expansion and contraction of the other band members’ parts while keeping a solid but fluid bottom end.

Erudite drummer Christian M. Newman (ex-Unit 7 Drain and too many other bands to count over the past decade and a half) is also an accomplished classical pianist although he’ll modestly claim he’s merely a student. That training, he explains, “gave me an opportunity to see space between the notes” as an important creative tool.

Lawson and Kemmerer share lyric writing duties that complement one another as superbly as their charming voices mesh. Songs are presented to the group and each write their own parts, sometimes resulting , says Lawson, in  “Vocal lines that don’t always go along with the melody,” but fit neatly nonetheless.

Add some unusual t
ime signatures and the result is songs that range from poppy to brooding and back again. The pair’s harmony vocals sound like indie-hymns from cloistered evening vespers sung to the deity of your choice.

For a premiere outing, Edge of a Knife is quietly stunning, owing much to Christian’s Unit 7 bandmate and longtime pal Harry Redus-Brown (Light Horse Dark Rider) who recorded and mixed at his Real Squirrels Studio. Carlos Jose Rafael Garcia (who performs as Carlos The Tall) mastered the final disc.

For a mere seven bucks, you’ll hear The Glass Menageries on the Launchpad’s extensive sound system which  often brings a hidden power to bands underserved by smaller venues. Expect just that tonight. A free CD and four other acts on the bill  just sweetens the deal.

The Glass Menageries
Small Game
8pm Friday February 17, 2012
Launchpad  618 Central SW Albuquerque NM
$7 cover includes CD

this originally appeared in a slightly differnt form in The Weekly Alibi: