Posted by: Johnny Loftus on July 31, 2007 at 8:56 am

MICHAEL DRACULA, In the Red (ZE, 2007)
Detour has no idea how Emily MacLaren left Ohio, ended up in Glasgow, or started recording for ZE Records, the right place, right time imprint that documented the no wave and punk-funk freakouts of 1970s New York City and has found new life as the home of boutique acts like her Michael Dracula. But since mystery and loose morals permeate In the Red, MacLaren’s shifty backstory is of no consequence.

What matters instead is how her heavy-lidded, Motown torch song delivery feels up the bloodshot guitars in the darkness under the tablecloth on “Poppers” and “What Can I do for You?” while the percussion bustles along at a proudly amateur pace, like it was played by a barkeep pressed into service. Like he’s going to say no? This music’s allure is its danger, and all he has to do to stay in the room is putter along on a kick drum or tambourine.

ZE’s legacy of deconstruction and reconstitution is in the songs on In the Red, too, particularly in the slur and scrape of the title track (“On the wrong side of the morning,” MacLaren moans), the glorified instrumental “Dadada Song,” and “Two Wrongs,” which begins with the spooky daydreams of a faraway organ before MacLaren’s vocals, parts of piano, and even more stumbling percussion come in through a back door. The rub: this is Twin Peaks music if there ever was; it features sounds for a part of the night no one has discovered yet.

Johnny Loftus


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