Bag Lady – L’escalier [No Label, 2008]

Bag Lady - L'escalierNormally when we think of the term bag lady we envision some poor, old, scab-encrusted harpy who laughs and talks to herself as pee runs down her leg. But this isn’t your typical bag lady we’re talking about here. This Baglady are a deranged band from The Netherlands who mix up the catchy and the chaotic in a musical chum bucket and when they pour out the resulting goo demons, aliens and robots go skittering away, together with the odd giant and a smattering of Muppets.

Speaking of Muppets, many Black and Death Metal bands employ lead singers who invariably sound like Cookie Monster dipped in bad acid and having a fit. I believe Cookie Monster deserves a lot more credit than he usually receives. Just think about how many lives he has saved, for without his influence how many Heavy Metal vocalists would be unemployed and sadly wandering the world in search of a place in life to fit in? I’m sure Cookie played his part in saving Baglady, for I am quite certain that without his influence they very well could be laughing and talking to themselves as pee runs down their legs!

Baglady utilize that Cookie Monster voice to good effect and for my money come the closest to actually honouring the highly exalted Muppet, and not merely with the vocals. L’Escalier begins with The Ceiling where a chugging guitar and hovering, spacey vocals explode into a mutant war cry before skipping along to some freakish nursery school where a baby Elephant Man toys around on the xylophone. He soon loses the plot and a primal scream bursts from within him like some vocal boil.

Many of the songs on L’Escalier have a sense of pursuit about them. At times they are the pursuers at others they are the pursued, as in The Art Of Plunging To One’s Own Death, which is the song that makes this album I think. It’s another piece of mutant metal and it could be the theme song for some degenerate superhero that uses his super powers to evade the cops after yet another foul and obscene outburst. Then again, it could also provide the perfect background music for some enraged drunk driver carrying out a series of hit-and-runs.

Baglady wear their influences on their collective sleeve throughout the course of the album. In Oh! You Candy Fish it’s like Mike Patton channelling Roy Estrada at the circus whilst simultaneously fantasizing about tying The Beach Boys to a series of spits and handing a lighter to Brian Wilson. Then there’s The Wrong Cliché: You Should Be Dead where Frank Zappa meets Tool. Would that be regarded as toolishness? A new term has just been born.

There’s a good bit of trippy space-rock sequences amongst the metal madness as in Standing Still which comes across as something like the bastard son of Gong and Pere Ubu with additional DNA provided by good ole Cookie Monster. It lumbers forth like some drunken ogre stomping on a child’s collection of Chia Pets.

Insomnia has a similar feel to it, like interstellar pirate music before the monster movie vocals swallow it up like a virtual King Kong. There’s a real lumbering giant feel to it, right down to the almost ”Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum” quality to the lyrics.

And then there’s a tune called Pig which is wonderfully catchy and sunshine-poppy at first, conjuring up a scene where several cute little Muppet monsters are out on a picnic perhaps, before they transform into ugly, demonic Muppet monsters on the run from the police in a stolen Studebaker after smoking too much crystal meth at lunch time. They wrap the car around an old oak tree where they slowly die before descending to Hell where the Devil looks disturbingly like Jim Henson.

If Cookie Monster listened to L’Escalier he would inevitably launch into some obscene rant which would traumatize the denizens of Sesame Street and for his grand finale he’d run up to Big Bird and punch him in his feathery balls before raping Grover. And that, my friends, is meant to be high praise for Baglady.

Joe Pickell

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