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Organ - Grab That Gun

  by John Clarkson

published: 29 / 3 / 2006



Organ - Grab That Gun
Label: Select Label
Format: CD

intro

Atmospheric, sexually ambiguous debut album from Canadian all girl group the Organ, which recolleects early 80's pop new wave bands such as the Passions and Martha and the Muffins


The Organ’s debut album, ‘Grab That Gun’, is an extraordinary testimonial to precision. When singer and band leader Katie Sketch formed her all girl act in Vancouver in 2001, she deliberately chose to work with people of a similar determination to her own, and who, instead of being musically accomplished, were prepared to practice hard, rehearsing and then playing together four or five nights a week if necessary to gain their group an audience. In fact only organist Jenny Smyth, who had been a member of Sketch’s previous group Full Sketch, had had any previous experience of playing in bands, and Sketch had to teach guitarist Debora Cohen, bassist Ashley Webber (who was recently replaced by Sketch’s younger sister Shmoo R) and drummer Shelby Stocks all how to play their instruments. An early version of ‘Grab That Gun’ was completed but scrapped when Sketch decided that, while technically strong, it was lacking in passion. While ‘Grab That Gun’ was finally released in a unique deal between Mint and 604 Records in North America at the end of 2004, it has taken a further 18 months to come out in Britain, with Sketch choosing to build up interest in the Organ by bringing the band regularly over on tour, and releasing singles and EPs as one-offs on tiny independent labels, before finding the right deal with Beggar’s Banquet offshoot, Too Pure. In fact if ‘Grab That Gun’ has a fault, it is that only three of its ten tracks have not already seen release in one form or another in the UK already. For all this, however, with its running time of just half an hour, it is nothing less than a small masterpiece, recollecting dark under rated early 80’s pop new wave bands such as the Passions and fellow Canadians Martha and the Muffins with its atmospheric, minimalistic energy, but carrying also something decidedly of its own also. Each member of the band is a unique presence-Cohen with her pealing guitar ; Webber with her clambering bass ; Stocks with her thunder clapping drums and especially Smyth with her surging, hymnal organ. It is, however, above all Sketch’s show. She combines the cathartic, bruised hurt of someone badly depressed and wounded by everything that life has ejected at her with a stinging and brittle humour. Much has been made in the press of the band’s alleged lesbianism, particularly after they made a brief appearance on the gay female drama series, ‘The L Word’. A lot of the power of ‘Grab That Gun’ comes from the fact that one never knows really who the crop-haired, androgynous-looking Sketch is singing about. ‘Steven Smith’ finds her turning on a former idol so that she can break away to shape her own identity (“I know that I am one of the few of who has got away from you/Steven Smith, we all lose/One look at you and they’re suddenly covered in shrapnel/It’s true, most die in your bedroom”), but whether she is singing about Morrissey, with whom she shares a similar bleakness and wit, or someone else entirely is ambivalent. Other songs are sexually ambiguous in tone, telling in the main of love on the slide or at a terminus, but whether the object of Sketch’s affections and pain is a boy or another girl is again debatable. Opening track, and the band’s first Too Pure single, ‘Brother’ finds her imagining the horror of what it would be like to have her lover snatched away from her in a war {“Sometimes it hurts when you care about me /But it’s going to hurt more when they take you away from me.”). ‘No One Has Ever Looked So Dead’ has her achingly reminiscing about a night of star watching with a now dead love (“In the backseat of your car you showed me every single star/and how the zenith and the sounds change in every town/well it’s over and I can’t go there anymore”), while ‘There is Nothing I Can Do’, the most disturbing track on the album, has her resorting to self harm after she discovers that her lover has been unfaithful to her (“So someone snuck into your room/and it got back to me/now I lie here in my room/and there is nothing I can do/but cut and think about you..”). Without wasting or putting a note out of place, ‘Grab That Gun’ tantalizes its audience. Less definitely meaning more, it in its brevity leaves its listener wanting to hear more and in Sketch’s shrouded tales of tortured love keen to know further. Its tracks resonate and revolve in the memory for days after being first heard. All this time after its initial release, music fans will nevertheless be hard pressed to find a more haunting album this year.



Track Listing:-
1 Brother
2 Steven Smith
3 Love, Love, Love
4 Basement Band Song
5 Sinking Hearts
6 Sudden Death
7 There is Nothing I Can Do
8 I Am Not Surprised
9 No One Has Ever Looked So Dead
10 Memorize the City



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interviews


Interview (2008)
Organ - Interview
The Organ broke up in December 2006 just as they had started to taste success both in their native Canada and Europe. Have briefly reunited to record 'Thieves', a final set of six songs, singer Katie Sketch speaks to John Clarkson about the reasons for the all girl group's abrupt break-up
Interview (2005)

live reviews


Late Room, Manchester, 17/7/2006
Organ - Late Room, Manchester, 17/7/2006
Back to see Vancouver all girl five piece the Organ for a second time, Dixie Ernill at the Late Rooms in Manchester watches them play a fiery and aggressive set and onceagain prove themselves to be very special indeed
Metro, London, 15/8/2005


digital downloads




reviews


Memorize The City (2006)
Atmospheric and ambiguous latest single, re-released from last year, from Vancouver-based all-girl five piece, the Organ
Brother (2006)
Memorize The City (2005)
Sinking Hearts (2005)


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