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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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Traction CD Cover
Image © Jollydog Music 2001  

(07 November 2004) Traction (Jollydog Music (USA) JDM 10-17-25, 2001) is the second release by Bugatti Type 35, an Indie Rock/Post Punk Band that is a minor legend in the Midwest and well revered as a local trio in Madison (The Mad City) Wisconsin, home of such bands as Garbage.

The band is reigned over by extremely versatile singer/songwriter, guitarist, recording engineer, producer, and entrepreneur, Wendy Bugatti. Her voice is intuitively emotive and within the raw timbre of her vocals there is a grave earnestness and a somber rasp that hits a nerve quite often throughout the album. She is supported by Par Farny on Bass Guitar and back up vocals and Mike Henry on drums. The incredible rhythmic interplay between these three musicians creates a kinetically organic equilibrium. At times it's raw and loud, but it's never just noisy.

Melodically, their sound is full of dilemma and resolution, at times dire and then assuaged. There is a fierce integrity and perceptiveness to Bugatti's writing, Delivering a social consciousness to her work, and yet it is tempered by a very personal sensibility. Bugatti's guitar is beautifully edgy and dissonant, just underscoring her uncompromising vocals even more. Farny's bass guitar is definitely the conduit to which the pulse of the band courses. And Henry's drums exhale and contract like a visceral machine.

There are twelve offerings from this Heartland pilgrimage, inhabited by lost souls and damaged innocence, in a complex world where nothing comes easy. Yet it doesn't come across self-conscious of the message. The songs are thoughtful and honestly from the gut. The style is often reminiscent of Patti Smith, and at times Bugatti's performance evokes thoughts of PJ Harvey.

The particular tracks that stand out the most were "Oh Lord" whose lyrics call forth the image of Sisyphus stoically rolling the bolder up that hill. Our most favorite and likely the most memorable track would be "Jimmy." An intensely serious anthem of the self-destructive personality. The verse makes mournful advances with lines like "Maybe this year we'll skip June. Too much to get through this summer. I don't mind where you take me. I don't mind if you drive. Just don't stop the car in June." Then the song erupts into the vast exposure of pain, anger and betrayal as we are the helpless bystanders to the events. She cries "Castaway," as everyone involved remains now in exile from the experience. This would be an incredible video for MTV fodder.

This sentiment carries over into "Give Me A Sign." Yelling out to the collective social miscreants, human wreckage and the disillusioned. "It's a long walk home, when you lose your direction. "Contain" and "Let It Ride" are very powerful as well. Melodically and lyrically. "No birds fly over to you they only fly away."

The album concludes with yet another strong track and perhaps another favorite is "Andy Told Me Yesterday," which is threaded with portions of Bugatti's interview with local legend street blues guitarist Catfish Stevenson. Regarding his life experience tethered in the blues and his "dancing with the devil" so to speak. This is definitely for aficionados of emotionally grainy vocals and synchronistically precise musicianship.

Traction never sounds nihilistic. It's harsh at times bit doesn't settle in darkness. It's realistic but not contrived. There is a sense of rescue beneath the outraged roar.--Jo Gabriel in Madison, Wisconsin

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