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Reviews You Can Use

It seems as though every time a group of people pick up instruments and decide to goof around, it sounds like crap. But finally, a group of people have learned how to be goofy in a productive fashion. Turn to Chocolate is a whimsical way to let She Mob entertain your day.

There are normalish songs, too, however. "Your Therapy" is a very pretty song that works well in many settings. But once you know they can be serious if they have to be, it makes it all the more rewarding to hear the fun stuff. "Caller I.D." is one such fun song. I think when The Donnas think they are being cute, they are trying to sound like this. Well, She Mob knows what they are doing. Great stuff.

In the same vein is "Lite Roc." The lyrics are tired slogans used by radio stations. "Lite rock, less talk/quiet storm, soft and warm" and "I can listen at work because it's not offensive" are examples of the great lyrics in this track. It shouldn't be much of a surprise that the best song on the album is one that is both entertaining and fun. "Was ist Das" does the trick in spades. I can listen to this song over and over again. In fact, I have. And I still don't get the song. I just like listening to it. And isn't that what music is all about? - Jughead, Agouti.com, May 15, 2002

She Mob is a fierce punk rock outfit who just happen to sound pretty exciting here in early 2002, also known as the Year Punk Returns ('cause I say so). Three-quarters female (Sue, Diane, Lisa and Alan), the gals all lend vocals and trade writing chores -- as they did in the early '80s, when they first started jamming together. So they took a long hiatus -- a lot of us did -- but they're nonstop rockin' now. The songs are topical -- "Viagra," "Your Therapy" -- to fairly obscure, unless you read medical journals ("Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy"), but all are set to a hard, minimalist beat: Old wave super-rockers such as Romeo Void, Pylon and the Au Pairs come to mind, as do the original noise-rappers, the Velvet Underground (as on the beautiful "Tear Me Down").

She Mob's do-it-yourself esthetic (the essence of the punk rock spirit) is exactly the kind of thing local culture critic Greil Marcus craves (he's compared them to the obscure Delta 5 -- not that there's anything wrong with that!). She Mob are serious musicians, yet they don't seem to take themselves entirely seriously. This is a very important attribute in a punk rock band, but somewhere along the way -- and I think it was between the formation of the Ramones and the Sex Pistols -- the humor was lost (of course there are exceptions, and East Bay fave Green Day is my favorite exception).

Here's what it boils down to: You remember the old saying "It rocks"? Well, She Mob definitely rocks, and in my language that translates to "They're really, really good." But don't listen to me -- instead, I offer you exactly three ways to find out more and to decide for yourself. First, get their latest CD, "Turn to Chocolate," with its 14 great songs (and some pretty groovy cover art that recalls yet another era, the psychedelic '60s).

Second, see and read the full spectrum She Mob-vibe by tuning to www.shemob.com; it's one good Web site, looks great and the links are terrific too -- from artist Lynda Barry to weird toy auctions and Bay Area punk bands. - Denise Sullivan, Contra Costa Times, Feb. 8, 2002

She Mob - Turn to Chocolate (Spinster Playtime): San Francisco's She Mob are quirky, feisty, and sometimes just downright cute when summoning their inner Teen Beat. On Turn to Chocolate, these three ladies and their male pal alternate instruments, vocals, and languages, singing in English, Spanish, and German. They've tweaked their special brand of synthesized garage-pop so that it alternates between clangy Shirelles harmonies, Le Tigre's didacticism, and the Softies' sweet melodies. Tracks like "Tear Me Down" and "Your Therapy" have a more polished and tuneful power-pop feel, but She Mob still drop some weird but humorous songs ("Viagra") and some furious, bass-heavy sludge fests ("Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy"). - Kim Newman, venuszine.com

She Mob - Turn to Chocolate: Extremely sassy and righteous rock 'n' roll from three thoughtful gals and one dexterous lad from San Francisco. Skewed toward an older demographic, She Mob nonetheless makes a divine clatter, while dashing through its anxiety checklist, which includes therapy, Viagra, caller I.D. and herbal remedies. Reckless and spirited, She Mob recalls the days when wit and determination were treasured commodities in the punk community. Remember The Raincoats? The Pastels? She Mob stands in good company. - John Chandler, Portland Tribune, December 14, 2001

Recalling the best of girl punk and the mixed gender new wave bands of the early '80s (Romeo Void, Au Pairs, Pylon), She Mob bring you roots of punk '90s style with a revolving lineup of instrumentation among the four members-from bass guitar and drums to violin and more guitar. The bass in particular is what helps propel the full-throttle punk sound while violin and vocals supply the mood on the less explosive, creeping pieces; it's all good. Sometimes they scream, sometimes they sound sweet as pie; all aspects of womanhood are represented. - Denise Sullivan, All Music Guide

Multiple Maniacs - She Mob doesn't act the appropriate way

A wobbly tremelo-laden guitar figure sets up a song whose first line is "Why didn't you tell us that you were taking Prozac for an experiment?" A bratty punk anthem about cutting school to stay home and smoke pot climaxes with the plaintive cry "Why did I become a teacher?" A tender ballad of sisterly solidarity ("You can call me anytime ... I understand") turns out to be sung from the point of view of Linda Tripp. These are some of the passionately blunt statements and sardonic twists you'll find in She Mob songs... [the San Francisco Bay Guardian interview by J Neo Marvin continues here]

The Mob Rules The feisty female threesome (plus one lad) from Frisco scribble smashingly raucous and surprisingly tender tunes in a decidedly I'm-getting-too-old-for-punk-but-I'm-still-kinda-pissed style that sounds just great alongside the likes of Scrawl and the Raincoats. - The Rocket, August 5, 2000

She Mob. Cancel the Wedding (Spinister Playtime) This San Francisco quartet tack on some dub ("Smoke Ring Day") at the end of Cancel the Wedding, their very Slits-like debut disc. And there are echoes of the Raincoats in the sound of Diane Wallis's sawed violin. But it's the savvy yet humble tone of Wallis's singing (not to mention Sue Hutchinson's growl) that marks She Mob as great inheritors of the Rough Trade grrrl-punk spirit of the late '70s. As with the she mobs of old, that tone in the voices of the songs' subjectsa friend from the Midwest (who gulps "Prozac"), "Emily" (who never ventures into town), "Mrs. Idey" (who drives off too far outside it)leaves you wondering whether they're being praised as rebels or ridiculed as hopeless cases. Perhaps because these grrrls are already in their 30s, they sing from a moral center that bespeaks corny old experience. Sometimes their perspective yields surreal refrains, like the understated observation "There has been a big mistake" in the song where a puppy morphs into a man. And sometimes She Mob sound downright revolutionary, as in the remarkable "Teacher," which reveals that students aren't the only ones who long for the day school's out forever. - Kevin John, Boston Phoenix, April 27-May 4, 2000

She Mob, Cancel the Wedding (Spinster Playground): three women in wigs shout their shouts and tell their weird, unassuming tales ("Teacher," "Prozac") - Robert Christgau, "Honorable Mention" list, Pazz & Jop Poll, Village Voice, March 1, 2000

"Comprising three women who contrast with each other as strikingly as the Beatles, She Mob write catchy, wild, rickety songs about friends on Prozac, old women with Alzheimer's wandering off, a punk-rock scream about how school sucksfrom a teacher's point of view." - J Neo Marvin, Village Voice, "26th or 27th Annual Pazz and Jop Music Critics' Poll," February 16, 2000 ["Geek Love - True to Their School, Indie Kids Throw a Pep Rally," is at the Village Voice here]

She's Not There (Not Anymore Anyway)

I'll never doubt you again, Goddess! She Mob came to my mailbox as a promo disc earlier on, whereas I'd deliberately ordered the newly issued She set (paid own $$) from an oldies catalog, because the blurb made it sound "interesting." Only after they'd taken over my player's deck time with back-to-back spins did I realize that the paranormal parallels between the two don't stop with their names. Both are all-female (save one token Y-chromo in She Mob), both hail from northern California, both play highly catchy and intelligent thwack-rock of their own composition, both could be described as "lo-fi" in sound (only if you think that's a problem), neither works for one of the four remaining music conglomerates . . . but the punch line is that these separated-at-birth albums were recorded 30 years apart! ...

... Thirty years on, with ever so many consciousnesses (F & M) raised in the meantime, the womyn of San Francisco's She Mob rock on with the kind of semiobscure purity once lived out by their forewenches in She, releasing their own material until big companies catch on. The newer band is less dominated by one focal presence, as Sue Hutchinson and Diane Wallis trade lead vocals as well as guitar and bass slots. Whoever's singing—Hutchinson in her expressive gush, Wallis as a kind of litterbox-trained Nico, or drummer Lisa McElroy—the homemade lyrics are clever and funny slices of everyday lives carried on beneath the radar of the daily orgies atop the stock market, in humbly passionate rooms where people take Prozac and are sometimes reincarnated as puppies. Let's just call She Mob "passive-resistance grrrls."

The voices alternately soar and then converse in manic harmonies, while insistent skrotch from guitars and bass and drums keeps you anchored to the eternal beat. The under-a-minute "Luge" sounds like Pere Ubu going bicoastal if not binary, while "I Took the $" gets down to brassy attacks: "I know that you know/That I know that you know/He says that I'm away." "Teacher" boldly admonishes the Newtocrite males who continually defame the profession that it's no walk in the sandbox. The members of She Mob are already in their thirties (only if you think that's a problem), so they may have shed some precocious illusions along the way, but their cheek and smarts are just as cheeky and smartass as those of She, who recorded during their true-blue teen-and-twenties years (but who are actually older than She Mob in real-time ages by now). Got that? - Richard Riegel, Village Voice, February 8, 2000 [the entire article, featuring more on She—the Sacramento girl-band from the 60s, is at the Village Voice here]

"As with such modest, cutting 1980s U.K. punk combos as Delta 5, women singing like people having real conversations. Increasingly funny, vehement, distracted conversations. For example, 'Why did I become a teacher? Why did I become a teacher?' For all the right reasons, but--" - Greil Marcus, "Real Life Rock Top 10," Salon.com, August, 1999 [She Mob was #2]
"She Mob drags moody lo-fi narco-pop and a bit of snarling yelpy punk into the garage for an overhaul. Coming out with a jangly, rough-edged sound that's at once haphazard and lush, savage and winkingly clever, with ghostly guitar, some sawing violin, and those curiously flat vocals that came in with Nico and stuck around through April March." - Sam Hurwitt, East Bay Express, July, 1999
"...30-something women having a good time, squawking out some tunes inspired by the bands they were listening to (and probably friends with) 10 years ago but continue to be inspired by—(I'm guessing here) Barbara Manning, the New Zealand invasion, Vomit Launch, Yo La Tengo, Antietam. Unpretentious, inventive, sloppy and uneven, but good, and refreshing." - Matt, Shredding Paper, Fall, 1999

She Mob - Cancel the Wedding

Used to be - for a few years anyway - that music was played mostly for fun around here. Mastering your instrument was all well and good but lots of musicians found it liberating to free themselves from such social constraints. In this spirit, let me present the debut album from a band who have their priorities just about right. Cancel the Wedding is as smooth as a baby's first steps, and just as darling. Guitarist Sue Hutchinson, Bassist, Violinist Diane Wallis and drummer Lisa McElroy all write and sing well enough to expose the essential grain of mirth hiding on the sea floor of the greatest rock and roll.

Wallis has the shaky, nasal voice that screams British Invasion garage/pop on "When You Go Away," and cools down to New Zealand chic on "Emily." Her lovely baby stepping violin parts on "Emily" and Hutchinson's "I Took the $" are about as musical as you'd want She Mob to get. Hutchinson's the one with the natural bluster and bizarre world view and exhibits both these talents on the astounding "Puppy," which may or may not be about soul swapping on Neutering Day from a puppy's perspective. Lisa McElroy has the kvetchy-punk thing down on her devilishly funny "Soul Mate." Producer Alan Korn, best known from his days as bassist for The Catheads, fills in as the fourth She Mobster on guitar and bass. - Mookie Vicarro-Hausman, San Francisco Frontlines, May, 1999

She Mob - Gang Way
She Mob may just be the pied pipers of scrappy punk.

The illuminati of San Francisco's 80's local band scene (I spied members of X-Tal, Catheads, Flying Color) came out in the light of day to toast a trio (plus demimember Alan Korn) of their raw and ready cabal during a recent Sunday barbecue at Bottom of the Hill. Based on their set, it would seem that Sue Hutchinson, Diane Wallis, and Lisa McElroy have stayed true to their love of scrappy punk and haunting lo-fi pop.

Hutchinson is the natural front woman of the band - a singer with a relaxed yet powerful vitality who can sculpt the mood through nuanced voice and attitude. She lends the band quite a bit of versatility, mixing up dramatic punk gesturing, in the Cramps-like "I'm Lost," perky churlishness, in happy-pop number "I Took the $," and a blissed-out presence in "Prozac." Meanwhile, her rhythm guitar playing was all punk downbeats and tomahawk chops.

Wallis' guitar playing and vocals were smoother and more refined; her finest contributions came on the several songs for which she put down her guitar and picked up the violin. On the icy and beautiful "Emily," her violin flowed and stammered out coupled notes between languid vocals, delivering the goose-bump moment of the show. On "I Took the $," the violin's scratchy back-and-forth motion over three major chords touched the avant-pop nerve that generations of Velvet Underground fans have come to experience as a sublime physical sensation.

Drummer McElroy sang lead vocals on "Melvin" and the Blondie-esque "Soul Mate." Her unembellished post-punk verite brought back memories of low ceilings and sticky floors. During the other songs, her backing vocals set She Mob apart from bands that rely solely on din and chaos for attention. Things never fell apart, even though every now and then, McElroy and Hutchinson's fervor momentarily made them lose sight of keeping a solid beat. This occurred during one of their final songs, an ambitious near-chestnut called "Puppy," yet as the three chanted the snappy refrain "little puppy stuck in the body of a man," its charms fell on forgiving ears. - Adam Savetsky, San Francisco Bay Guardian, June 18, 1998

"By now you're dying to know who the coolest band in town is. The coolest band in San Francisco is She Mob. She Mob are three lovely, mid-30 to 40-year-old school-teacheresque women who play a simultaneously horrifying and hauntingly gorgeous brand of simple pop-metal - think Velvet Underground jamming with the Melvins and your mother. What some would call amateur musicianship, Night Fever calls raw and instinctual fury. Though some Hotel Utah show goers were, um, stunned, visionary Night Fever knew there was a revolution in progress." - Greg Heller, BAM Magazine, August 22, 1997
"There is a certain chemistry when old pals congregate and strap on the guitars," reads She Mob's press kit. The trio, which is composed of three friends who used to play around the San Francisco punk rock scene in the early 80's, could be considered a rocking Joy Luck Club. Now in their 30', drummer Lisa McElroy and guitarists/bassists Sue Hutchinson and Diane Wallis have put together a band with a no-frills ethos that plays moody songs with a garage flavor and intensity. "Emily," with its tuneless, clipped phrases and trashy brevity, shows a distinct Raincoats influence. All three sing in a round on "When You Go Away," lending its already hypnotic groove an added cauldron-conference vibe. Spookier and cooler than anything Halloween has to offer." - Howard Myint, "Demo Tape O' the Week," San Francisco Bay Guardian, 1997

"I'd cancel the wedding too if I had to marry this band. Crappy garage rock with female vocals. Their "press release" says, "think Velvet Underground jamming with the Melvins and your mother". 1.) Velvet Underground sucks, 2.) this sounds nothing like the Melvins and 3.) my mom is a whore who ran away with the milkman! - NS, Punk Planet (Sept./Oct., 1999)

[Oh the pain! Why did he have to put sarcastic quotes around "press release"? It boggles "the mind." - SM]

The Bitter Corner Review

All bands get some bad reviews, pucker up and read.

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