Tuesday, June 2, 2020
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Artist: Miss Massive Snowflake (@)
Title: Queen’s Headache
Format: CD
Label: North Pole Records (@)
Distributor: Starbage Hands
Rated: *****
Miss Massive Snowflake is one Shane de Leon of Portland, Oregon. This multi-instrumentalist and songwriter played with the experimental group Rollerball for ten years, and he has recorded and performed with numerous bands and artists. Queen’s Headache is a felicitous romp full of playful tunes that sound like what might happen if Ween were to sneak into one of the classrooms in Jack Black’s "School Of Rock" and host an impromptu fantasy music camp for kids. This is by no means a knock on the music, which is really catchy and chock full of intriguing and diverse instrumentation. It is rather a very positive indictment on the booster-shot-sized injection of youthful exuberance and fun brought to this CD by its many young contributors, and the apparently young-at-heart ringleader, de Leon. The opening cut is a sweet and serene instrumental entitled "Satsuma." "Bombs Away" follows with a sad and scathing political message woven into a simple, understated melody. Larry Yes lends his vocal talents on "Swing of Hair," a love-infused ditty with a banjo appetizer and a mildly funky feel. "Hillarianos" introduces us to child vocalist Micah Von Werssowetz as he riffs about being a robot over a mild dose of television static. This mirth goes out the window as Von Werssowetz switches gears in "The Hunt," a creepy piece that sounds as though it might’ve been authored by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris! Things simmer down considerably after that, though, with "Meredith," a mellow guitar melody with a soothing beat and a few juicy midi horns thrown in for kicks. "Who Wrecked the Party" sees the return of Larry Yes on lead vocals with music by DJ Faccia di Merda. A buzzing beat hops round with middle-eastern influenced drums as children from the Choral Kinders ask "who wrecked the party?" About a minute into this tune, Yes uncorks one of the most absurd raps ever penned, sounding like Larry Nye-does-G-rated-Eminem. This is "better-not-listen-to-it-for-the-first-time-while-driving-because-it’s-so-amusing-you-may-wreck-your-car" funny! "Draggish Friends" features child vocalist Kiana Monihan offering a brief update on the situation in Iraq. Werssowetz reappears on "I Don’t Know," though you wouldn’t know as his vocals are heavily processed and hidden behind a beefy beat with some ham & eggs keyboards on the side. "One I’ve Been Waiting For" is a lovely, low-fi cover of a tune by Raleigh, N.C.-based alt-rockers, Remora. "Fossil Fissure" is an unsettling statement on invasion and death with Kiana Monihan and de Leon on vocals. The edge is taken off once again as this is followed by the spunky instrumental "Sunday, Monday," and then "Cake," which appears to be a fondly reminiscent dedication to a friend. Somber tones return on "The Mexican," but the disc closes out with a laugh on "26 Names," as Marley Von Werssowetz drops a list of playground insults describing Miss Massive Snowflake – one for each letter – over bongo beats and a slow chord progression. A-Alligator Breath... B-Butthead... etc. Too much comedy! As an added bonus, the disc also includes videos for five of the songs in quicktime format. The disc and a lyric sheet are housed inside of a colorful sleeve within a nice digipak-type slipcase with a beautifully letterpressed cover. The playful artwork and design are products of de Leon’s fertile imagination and should provide a clue for the listener that fun times are ahead. One of the true joys of being a music reviewer is discovering hidden treasures – releases I probably would not have otherwise come across that appeal to me so much I would have happily dropped some coin to add them to my collection. Queen’s Headache fits firmly into that category!