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This review is from: Shaping The Invisible (Audio CD)
Helen Storer's vocals provide the perfect bridge between urgency and passion on this record which quickly became one of my favourites of all time. A spaced out distorted backdrop over some truly exceptional drumming from Dave Krusen (who lent his drumming to Pearl Jam's debut, Ten). 

Enchanting textures, the hazy production only adds to the translucent, hypnotic layers of infectious melodies and guitars which belong to exploding stars. Recalling artists such as my bloody valentine, the jesus and mary chain and mazzy star, if you like your rock, sexy, groovy, passionate and splattered with neon whilst drifting amongst the stars this is your huckleberry. 

And it contains an extra special treat at the end - probably the best Kate Bush cover ever recorded.
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Thee Heavenly Music Association,Shaping the Invisible (Rehash) Rating: 9
This act utilizes the various modus operandi behind such acts as the Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and Radiohead to make some pleasing, sublime and strong pieces of music. Led by the vocals and guitar of Manchester native and former Fluffy member Helen Storer, you get the impression that this band was on the cusp of landing all the songs inLost in Translation but the courier screwed up along the way. "Synesthesia" speaks of a perfect day while guitars, keyboards and drums create a lush wall of sound that never goes overboard. Each song, including "Suffer My Angel", tends to close as dreamy as it opened, but others are more succinct, especially "The Absolute Elsewhere" which has that trippy, psychedelic haze over it thanks to guitarist David Hillis and Storer. It does tend to sell itself short though with such a rushed ending. "Alain" is simply gorgeous with its slight Smashing Pumpkins-ish hue while "Angelic Disorder" is, well, angelic with its guitars and atmosphere. This continues with a grander scope on "Jiji Crycry" and the brawny "Say Something". Well, say something... brilliant. [Amazon

      — Jason MacNeil 

Thee Heavenly Music Association
Shaping the Invisible
Rehash Records , Los-Angels, US. / Fierce Panda Records london,UK.


By and large the product of Dave Hillis and Helen Storer, Thee Heavenly Music Association is a collection of musical ideas run through a few processors and then edited into a semi-coherent shape.

Actually, some of these songs are really songs. Really good songs. And even the more conceptual pieces here are quite striking. Imagine Black Box Recorder on a bad trip--but with guitars by Anton Fier. I'm not exactly sure how Hillis and Storer put together live shows, but apparently they do. I'd pay to hear that.

Maybe all the experimentation that went into the recording is simply distilled into a straight retelling. I doubt it, though. Anyone willing to put together an album this adventurous wouldn't--make that couldn't--do something so insipid.

And in case the album doesn't warp your musical sensibilities enough, there's a cover of Kate Bush's one and only U.S. "hit." Oh, don't worry. This is no ape job. It's a surprising reimagining of the piece, surprising mostly in its delicacy. Thee Heavenly Music Association knows how to make a mark.

..Thee Heavenly Music Association is an apt moniker, but one that the duo of Helen Storer and David Hillis could have a hard time living up to. If murky guitar riffs and some feedback and fuzz are your niche, then step right up! Bands such as the Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine are easily discerned here, while current bands such as Singapore Sling and Bikini Atoll are definitely quaint comparisons. 
"Synesthesia" starts the album off with a beefy guitar riff and ethereal, airy vocals to create a perfect blend of beauty and brawn. This could be the soundtrack to Lost in Translation 2 if such a venture came to fruition. 
Deeper and stronger is "The Absolute Elsewhere," which has Storer's vocals drawing out the best of Hillis' guitar playing, similar to the Cure circa Bloodflowers. The only problem with this track is that it ends much too quickly and abruptly, making it seem a bit unfulfilled or not fully blossomed. 
Highlights, and there are several, have to begin with the epic, dreamy, and extremely lush "Alain," which soars and soars. One hopes it goes on and on, but it ends -- unfortunately -- after just four precious, joyful minutes. It's this grandiose approach that keeps it so pleasing and sweet. Then there is the slow-building and downplayed "Angelic Disorder," which offers a wall of sound behind Storer's somewhat dreary yet hopeful pipes. "Suffer My Angel" tends to suffer by winding around an arrangement that doesn't go anywhere. However, this is atoned for with the stunning "Trip Seat," as the band makes a beautiful, thick, intense, and emotional wall of sound. The album takes a bit of a breather during "Jiji Crycry," but this effort is still a healthy dose of hazy, psychedelic-tinged dream rock. They take the album up an intense notch or two with the buzzsaw urgency of "Say Something," which never falters or wavers, making it a consistently strong listen. The coda is a coveted cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill," slowing the tune down into a very sparse, precious nugget in the vein of Moby's reworking of New Order's "Temptation." The guitar hues resemble the Edge here as well.


--- Jason MacNeil,
Music may just be getting good againor even terrific! Layers upon layers of reverb-clouded lush psychedelia billow like white dust unfolding behind the tailpipe of a 69 midnight-blue Mustang roaring through the Nevada desert. The Warlocks, Brian Jonestown Massacre and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have a rivaland Thee Heavenly Music Association is more symphonic, freeform and gigantic than any of em. Female vocals get sultry like Mazzy Star in Alain, soulful and smooth like Sharin Foo of the Raveonettes in, well, everything. One of the top 10 albums of the year.

--SL Weekly

Step into a time portaland dont forget to wear all blackand kick back and enjoy the ethereal sounds that make up Shaping The Invisible. Thee Heavenly Music Association is indeed heavenly and so is singer Helen Storer, who sounds like a cross between P.J. Harvey and the Cocteau Twins and looks like a freaking super model. Shaping The Invisible is infectiously seductive and fans of shoegazers, The Jesus and Mary Chain or My Bloody Valentine will love every drippy second of it. The band plays out like a six degrees of everyone with Storer being a former member of Fluffy and Jack off Jill and Fireball Mystery. Guitarist/singer David Hillis played in bands Mace and Sybil Vane and engineered albums for Afghan Whigs, Pearl Jam, and Alice In Chains and drummer Dave Kruzen is former Pearl Jam alum. This album is pure sex. Check out the track Angelic Disorder or the Kate Bush cover Running Up That Hill and see for yourself.


--Theresa Culver, 

It was all a matter of time: Over the past 18 years-- first with The Afghan Whigs and then as The Twilight Singers-- Greg Dulli has covered several anthologies' worth of songs on stage and on singles. Musically, Dulli is omnivorous, devouring everything from Henry Mancini's "Moon River" to Hole's "Miss World" to New Order's "Regret" to Prince's "When Doves Cry". A covers album was inevitable.

Reflecting Dulli's range of interest and influence, She Loves You covers a lot of territory in just 11 songs: R&B;, showtunes, classic rock, jazz, blues, soul, and Björk. For some artists, this line-up-- which includes songs by Hope Sandoval, John Coltrane, David Holmes & Martina Topley-Bird, Lindsey Buckingham, and Marvin Gaye, among others-- might appear too willful and calculated in its range of styles and genres, but Dulli's precedent-setting live performances and B-sides deflect that criticism. Diversity, however, is never an end in itself, and fortunately, The Twilight Singers evince an understanding of these songs, resulting in some intriguing interpretations. Dimming the lights and spreading them out on satin sheets beneath the mirrored ceiling, Greg Dulli-fies these songs, translating them into his particular brand of dark-end-of-the-street, soul-derived rock and, at his most brazen, altering their meanings.

Unlike the four cover songs on Afghan Whigs' 1994 EP What Jail Is Like, this is no one-night stand. Rather, She Loves You treats each song differently while still being carefully sequenced so that its tracks cohere into a narrative of love and loss, resulting in a record that manages to sound as if its tracks were the product of one mind. (Although, in fairness, Dulli's musical mind was itself formed by many of these songs, which prompts a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum). The Dulli who sings the edge-of-the-precipice "Hyperballad", for example, could be the same one who wrote "Be Sweet" or "Something Hot".

On Fleetwood Mac's "What Makes You Think You're the One", Dulli loses the original's regimental march tempo, allowing the song to sprawl and stretch as he mimics Lindsey Buckingham's slurred vocals. "Too Tough to Die" merges Topley-Bird's dark Americanisms onto a New Orleans piano shuffle, and on "Real Love"-- first recorded by Mary J. Blige-- he builds on the jump-rope rhythms of the original, letting a sawing guitar drive the chorus. Elsewhere, the Gershwin Brothers' classic "Summertime" sounds new, darker. Over a 70s-soundtrack guitar flourish, Dulli sings "hush, little baby, don't you cry" like a sexual predator, his voice sounding pack-a-day ragged. It's sinister and not a little unnerving, but he makes it fascinating just the same, mostly because his interpretation doesn't stray from the original, just re-frames it.

That approach doesn't necessarily work across the board: Dulli's biggest misfire onShe Loves You is "Strange Fruit", popularized by Billie Holiday but written by Abel Meeropol, a white, Jewish, Communist schoolteacher. Vividly describing a Southern lynching, it has become canonical, among the first popular songs to address American race relations. Its specific descriptions of seemingly tangential details only add to the inherent horror of its topic, and even Holiday's version sounds slightly eroticized by the tactile descriptions ("scent of magnolia sweet and fresh") and the chiaroscuro contrast between that pleasure and sheer pain ("then the sudden smell of burning flesh").

Dulli and occasional Twilight Singer Mark Lanegan make the sensual lyrics sound desperately sexual: The line "black bodies swaying in the summer breeze" here evokes images of lovers, not corpses, and "the bulging eyes and the twisted mouth" describe the body in orgasm. It's a brave, if facile, read, completely disregarding political correctness as it plumbs the song for other issues. Dulli goes for obvious horror-show theatrics-- lumbering guitar lines, Sturm-und-Drang pace, tortured vocals-- which cheapen the song's devastating metaphor. Simply put, the song looms too large for him; he cannot manage to wrap his persona around its gruesome subject matter and deep history.

While "Strange Fruit" aims for intense psychodrama, Dulli gets more impact out of the simple do-do-do's on Marvin Gaye's "Please Stay", the sadomasochistic subtext of "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair", the vertiginous emotions of "Hyperballad", and the hope in the face of heartache on Mary J. Blige's "Real Love". They may not be as ambitious as "Strange Fruit", but they do remind us why the earth moved for Dulli in the first place.

— Stephen M. Deusner, September 2, 2004


lambchops's Full Review: She Loves You by The Twilight Singers



1. Amedia
2. If We Could 
3. Identify
4. I
5. Thoughtless Innuendos
6. Restless
7. Enemy
8. She
9. Telepathic Rock & Roll
10. Walkaway
11. The Lovers


Ranking: #9 for 2003

user rating



December 2nd, 2007 


Summary: A genuinely spirited, bona-fide rock-and-roll album from the Candlebox frontman and a slew of collaborating musicians. Listeners seeking a new rock-and-roll artist would be crazy not to give this a shot.

As evidenced by over five million records sold as Candlebox's frontman in the 1990s, Kevin Martin has developed an affinity for writing hook-laden rock-and-roll. After temporarily disbanding in 1999 due to multiple line-up changes and the ever-popular explanation of "record label politics," Candlebox's hiatus allowed Martin to pursue other endeavors. Beginning in 2001 and ultimately ending in a Summer 2003 release, Martin began writing and collaborating with multiple artists, from Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson to the eclectic Space, Kevin Martin & The Hiwatts' The Possibility of Being came to fruition. In a sense, "Possibility" is a Martin solo endeavor, but he and The Hiwatts - along with the other musical collaborators and contributors - sound like an authoritative, mature rock-and-roll group.

Essentially, The Possibility of Being is a breath of fresh air in the genre. It is a spirited rock-and-roll album that encompasses the tenets of rock-and-roll in every sense of the term. Kevin Martin & The Hiwatts are not a Candlebox: Revisted group. While elements of his first group's bluesy, grungy sound can be heard at various points of the album, "Possibility" distinctly incorporates a multitude of genres that can be heard quite clearly; however, it's best to discover that Kevin Martin & The Hiwatts embrace the zeal and gusto of rock-and-roll throughout the album.

From album opener Amedia, which opens with a cymbal crash and a solitary guitar chord, Martin's distinctive voice asks instantly, "Who said you kids are all alright?" This simple vocal intro gives way to a roaring verse with crunching guitars and effective drumming, beginning the album on a masterful note. The main riff is insanely catchy and the lead guitar playing almost inconspicuously underneath it is stellar; the drumming, courtesy of Terry "T-Bone" Rowe, is strong and assertive, with crisp cymbals and a powerful snare. Amedia also offers an incredible vocal performance from Martin, as well as shedding light into his overall themes he explores on the album. "Amedia, Amedia, we are the monsters that feed your head with our senseless alternatives... we are all faceless in the end, over-sold and the newest trend," sings Martin with his signature voice in the verses and chorus, who may be alluding to his previous record label issues with Candlebox. After a blistering guitar solo and a more abrasive turn from Martin, the track delves deeply into the heart of rock-and-roll. The back-up vocals on the track, especially in the reprised chorus, are also truly magnificent; all told, Amedia is a perfect opener that effectively sets the tone of the album.

The album opener is only trumped by If We Could, which is without question the best track on the album. The track is also the first on the album to feature an orchestral accompaniment. Lush lead guitars, courtesy of Space, who also collaborated with Martin on Enemy andTelepathic Rock & Roll, are complemented with a mellow, running bassline underneath in the song's intro, which precedes an introspective Martin in the verses. Martin, who concerns himself with stopping global warming and genocide prevention, can provide rather scathing social commentary at times. Take for instance the chorus' anthemic "If we could see ourselves, would we get it right? If we don't feel at all, how can we feel alive?" or the bridge's "If we never fall... and if we want it all, who would we want to be?" From this point, the orchestral accompaniment and a fantastic guitar solo elevate the track to an explosive concluding final chorus and conclusion. The orchestra also shines wonderfully on the exceptionally beautiful, heart-wrenching album closer, The Lovers, with heartbreaking lyrics such as "We left the gates wide open, love, but locked away our souls / Who we are is all I know, and I miss you still / Today, tomorrow, and yesterday: walk with me, share this world with me, I love you still." Martin's repeated "Set free the lovers!" is one hell of a conclusion to the album.

Another intriguing aspect of The Possibility of Being is the wide array of genres heard on the album. Identify exhibits punk roots, Telepathic Rock & Roll as the rollicking pro-rock anthem (while indeed a song that pays tribute to his musical heroes, see Martin's incensed lyrics, which include "So don't you gimme no more transparent rock & roll stars, gimme no more transparent rock & roll" and " I define what's credible; it has a bit to do with telepathic rock & roll / I got Lennon, got Janis, got Lou, and Bob Marley knew telepathic rock & roll"), and Isounds stunningly Tool-like in character, yet exhibits its own individuality. Also of interest on "Possibility" is the inclusion of samples to facilitate the music. For example, Enemy features American countercultural figure Peter Honda uttering his infamous "We need a real uprising" quotation, where he cites dictators like Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, and other "fanatics of filth, famine, and atrocity." Inherently, Martin's social commentary emanates throughout.

In the end, The Possibility of Being is a bona-fide rock-and-roll album that encapsulates the spirit of rock-and-roll to an amazing degree. Martin's voice is distinguished, but not easily accessible at first. His clean vocals are superb, but at times he sounds like he uses a lot of his throat rather than his diaphragm, which sounds like it has a lot of phlegm in it from smoking. This quality, however, adds a ton of character into his delivery and to The Hiwatts' instrumentation. "Lyrics and melody have always been important to me," says Martin. "That's one of the best ways I communicate." He undoubtedly delivers on The Possibility of Being: with caustic social commentary (If We Could, a track that Martin states "deals with humanity, being humane to one another, asking yourself, 'What am I doing here? What is life all about for me?'" is an authoritative example of this) to heartbreaking lyricism (Walk AwayThe Lovers) to anthemic rock-and-roll numbers (Amedia,Telepathic Rock & RollEnemy), Martin is absolutely brilliant. The instrumentation is excellent as well - the guitars have an eclectic and electric crunch and Space's contributions are certainly noteworthy, the bass rumbles when heard, and the drumming provides an unwavering backbone to the Hiwatts' core sound - altogether, it certifiably encompasses the spirit of rock-and-roll. Listeners seeking a straightforward and incredibly awesome rock-and-roll record would do well in giving The Possibility of Being a spin.


  KEVIN MARTIN  Possibility of Being