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Lipstick Jodi

Good Not Great
self-released; 2016

3.9 out of 5

By J Simpson

Love can be a drag. It can also be the most exciting, amazing thing on Earth that takes your breath away, sending goose bumps up and down your neck and arms, making you lightheaded. Love can make you want to surrender, to be swept away. It can also make you want to drive a nail file through someone’s eye.

Seeing as how love is intimately tied up in our survival, both personal as well as a species, it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of energy behind it. Libidinal forces as psychologists put it. The kind of thing that can make you can crazy. Or blast you into the stratosphere into ecstasy.

Rock n’ roll, being the most id-centric/libidinal music on the planet, is uniquely qualified to express this roller coaster ride, as you can hear on Good Not Great, the debut LP from Grand Rapid, MI’s Lipstick Jodi.

Lipstick Jodi have been described as the “lesbian love child of the St. Vincent and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs,” which basically means smart, driving, aggressive guitar rock that you can dance to. Lipstick Jodi sounds like late ’90s girl-fronted alt-rock, all grown up and pissed off. If Avril Lavigne had dropped the cutesy, stylish act, or if Garbage had grown to be as popular as other Butch Vig-produced acts, like the Smashing Pumpkins, they might’ve grown up to be Lipstick Jodi.

It’s refreshing to hear an emotional range in driving, energetic rock n’ roll. Too often, we’re left with a bunch of guitar slingers pretending to be medieval barbarians or hired mercenaries. That’s not to say that the average Williamsburg indie band hasn’t fought off a marauding band of Goths or Vandals, but it is unlikely (and I would definitely buy that CD). Instead, Lipstick Jodi talks about things everybody can relate to, no matter their gender (or age, or class, or background for that matter).

Guitar player/singer Karli Morehouse is the driving force behind Lipstick Jodi as the principle songwriter and she reveals herself to be quite a songsmith, as well as having a great set of pipes. You’ve likely heard someone who sounds like Morehouse before, so it’s up to you to decide if that’s a good or bad thing. If you’re into complete novelty, these sounds are likely to drift right past your eardrums. If you’re looking for someone transforming and transmogrifying existing styles into something distinctive and personal, you’re in luck!

Glorious guitars and powerful beats are tightly choreographed to fit the vocals, creating a compelling backdrop that perfectly accentuates Morehouse’s tales of new and fading romance. Interesting effects are dropped in periodically, on every front, like the distorted lo-fi vocals of “Exist.” which brings to mind the raging storm of industrial rockers Curve, or an ever-more-pissed Shirley Manson. Guitars also range wildly from the thick, sludgy sheets of sound of “Exist” to catchy palm-muting, and explosive, sunburst post-rock lead on “Caught By A Whim.”

All in all, it’s nice to hear a different kind of story in a short rock n’ roll EP that has enough hallmarks of both pop and extreme rock to satisfy both. If Taylor Swift fans are looking for a way to get into Metallica, or vice versa, here’s your bridge!

Expect great things from Grand Rapids, MI’s Lipstick Jodi.