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Peggy Sue – Phantoms and Other Fossils [Wichita]

March 31, 2010

Peggy Sue first came to my attention when a friend of mine showed me their cover version of ‘All N My Grill’ for IndieGhetto, where generally speaking a bunch of indie bands massacre really good RnB numbers. Except for Peggy Sue, their version of the Missy Elliot track that originally featured Nicole Wray and MC Solaar, might even be an improvement. Or at least it takes lyrics like ‘where’s my money, where’s my dough’ and turns them into a lament of haunting beauty. Plus, they employ a washboard to brilliant effect. And I’m a sucker for a washboard.

What shone through the second rate clutter on IndieGhetto, is exactly what crowns Fossils And Other Phantoms; Rosa Slade and Katy Young have vocal chords to make you weep with envy. Theirs are chops obviously honed from listening to soul and RnB singers like Lauryn Hill or Mary J. Blige. But like any good folkie, they can melt the paint from your walls with their harmonies.

Perhaps it’s poignant that Peggy Sue has used them for such a heartbreaking collection of songs, all exhaling the breath from gloomy love affairs and despairing situations. And while at times their lyrics are morose, as on ‘I Read It In The Paper’s ‘If you only lose an hour, you only gain an hour, it feels the same…If you only gain an hour, you only gain another hour to waste’ or ‘Fossils’ ‘Oh fossils turned your flesh to stone and the sand that trickles your veins is moving slow’, there is a magic in the sadness. A glittering delicacy coating the miserable underbelly.

Vocals aside, much of that glitter owes itself to the rolling and thundering backdrop provided by Olly Joyce’s drumming. What starts out as a mild stirring in the distance on ‘She Called’, processes to the forefront like a fully-grown marching band of crashing percussion, and the carefully placed tambourine of ‘The Remainder’ drags the goosebumps out of your skin.

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After a successful string of self-released EPs, Fossils And Other Phantoms is their first release on their new home, Wichita. An apt camping spot for their anti-folk style, they sit pretty amongst label mates like First Aid Kit, The Dodos and Espers. And though Peggy Sue may wallow amidst the mildew when in it comes to the mouldy life experience that inspires their lyrics, musically they are blossoming in the foliage of the tallest trees.

[Originally reviewed for Bearded]

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