Good literature is a conversation between the author and the characters, or the author and the subject—but the best draws readers into a conversation with themselves. Comprised of literary and thoughtful folk, The Glass Menageries invites you to converse while you sway to inspired dream pop that paints divine mind pictures.
Some tracks from the band’s debut “Edge of a Knife” EP are inspired by favorite authors. Most notably, “Only Ones” takes lyrics verbatim from Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita and narrator/protagonist Humbert Humbert. “We even used some of his French,” laughs Gena Lawson (vocals, keyboard, guitar), whose day job as a teacher opens tween minds to new thoughts and, yes, conversation. Like good literature—and echoing the delicate yet revealing nature of mirrors and the risk of bad luck residing therein—“Fingerstring” encourages one to step beyond self-imposed limits.
A couple of years ago en route to the feminist art and music Titwrench festival, Lawson met Mauro Woody (vocals, keyboards and guitar). They recognized many similarities in their musical tastes (Cocteau Twins, The Cure, Brian Eno) and vowed to work together. Woody, according to her mother, has been singing since she was 7 months old. Being in Catholic school choir, she says, “taught me how to listen to other people and myself as a whole.” A skilled multitasker, Woody also fronts Animals in the Dark, is one of the 5 Star Motelles and solos as Lady Uranium.
Her brother, Brahm Woody (bass), also sang choir. Inspired by their dad’s extensive record collection, he listened intently to everything from Pink Floyd to the Cats soundtrack while providing percussion on a mac and cheese box. “There’s a generosity to his playing,” says Lawson. This allows expansion and contraction of the other band members’ parts while keeping a solid but fluid bottom end.
Erudite drummer Christian M. Newman (ex-Unit 7 Drain and too many other bands to count over the past decade and a half) is also an accomplished classical pianist, although he’ll modestly claim he’s merely a student. He says training gave him an opportunity to see space between the notes as an important creative tool.
Lawson and Mauro share lyric writing duties that complement one another as superbly as their charming voices mesh. Songs are presented to the group and each writes their own parts, sometimes resulting in what Lawson explains as vocal lines that don’t always go along with the melody but fit neatly nonetheless.
With some unusual time signatures, the songs go from poppy to brooding and back again. The pair’s harmony vocals sound like indie-hymns from cloistered evening vespers sung to the deity of your choice.
For a premiere outing, “Edge of a Knife” is quietly stunning, owing much to Christian’s Unit 7 bandmate and longtime pal Harry Redus-Brown (Light Horse Dark Rider), who recorded and mixed at his Real Squirrels Studio. Carlos Jose Rafael Garcia (who performs as Carlos The Tall) mastered the final disc.
For a mere seven bucks, you’ll hear The Glass Menageries on the Launchpad’s extensive sound system, which often brings a hidden power to bands underserved by smaller venues. A free CD and four other acts on the bill just sweeten the deal.