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Kristeen Young


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Fierce dramatic rock

Status:

Most recent release, Live at the Witch's Tit (live, 2017); most recent studio release, The Knife Shift (2014)

See also:

Kristeen Young's site

Wikipedia's entry for Kristeen Young

Ectophiles' Guide entries for Kristeen Young's previous projects, Nov. 9th and WaterWorks

Comparisons:

Dalbello, the more dramatic moments of Sandra Lockwood, Emily Bezar, Lene Lovich, Diamanda Galas, Kate Bush, Sarah Mclachlan, Suddenly, Tammy!

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

She was described to me as "Emily Bezar's evil twin", and I can sort of see that, though there is a liberal dose of Lene Lovich in here, and even some Diamanda Galas as well. I don't quite know what I think of it yet. There's lots of piano, of course, and alternately sweet and banshee-like vocals, with various other things happening in the background.
     For those of you who haven't heard any of Ms. Young's music, the most often heard comparisons are really the most apt: Imagine Kate Bush (during her "Babooshka"-video phase) and Lene Lovich, and you're part of the way there. (meth@smoe.org)

she has a tremendous range, sometimes diving below to low, grungy sounds and then SUPER SUPER (mariah carey...) high notes that are crystal clear and unstrained. she plays piano and composes odd progressions and time signatures. her voice i would compare to kate bush/sarah mclachlan but trust me, there's no way to compare her to anybody! it's like her voice quality changes from song to song. anyone who gets her album meet miss young and her all boy band i couldn't imagine being anything less than stupored! of course, i'm just a HUGE HUGE fan!! her music ranges from alternative to heavy metal to pop to jazz to folk to opera to.... (enzo1@idt.net)

actually a pretty decent comparison (in voice anyway) is Diamanda Galas. but i think Ms. Galas has more substance to her work. If i can remember correctly Kristeen has a classically trained opera voice (like Diamanda) and she tries to use it, often in the same song. i do not have her solo album on world domination, but i have one of her early local indie releases when she was in the group Nov. 9th. her other indie release (that i know of) is with a band called WaterWorks. both are pretty similar in sound, but more pop/rock orientated than her solo album from what i hear. i don't have the WaterWorks album, i can't talk about it, but WaterWorks i think was a little stronger. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

a very cool piano grrl who pounds her keys like there's no tomorrow. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

Comments about live performance:

If they have half the energy they had in their show here a couple of weeks ago, very highly recommended indeed. Not their most technically brilliant effort, but what it lacked in precision it made up for in energy. Unfortunately the show was cut about half an hour short of its scheduled ending as Jeff White broke his snare drum half an hour into the set. Even so, they continued on with a selectively-altered setlist for another 20 minutes or so. (3/99, rjk1@cs.wustl.edu)

I had heard a lot about how amazing she was live, but nothing they said prepared me for just how intense and wonderful Kristeen's performance was. She came out in what I guess would be best described as her "insane girl scout" costume and, accompanied by her drummer Jeff White, started her amazing, intense, stunning...well, pretty much every positive adjective I might apply to a concert should be applied to Kristeen's performance. I am now a confirmed member of the cult of Kristeen Young. (6/99)
     Kristeen Young performing at CB's Gallery (NYC) in July was quite an event as well, though the fact that she performed pretty much the same set every week that month resulted in me only making the trek down for two of the shows. Her new material ranged from good to great, even if she was trying way too hard to impress the major label squids. (12/01, mcurry@io.com)

Kristeen onstage is indeed quite terrifying. Like what I've always imagined Danielle Dax to be like live, or like KaTe's performance of "Violin" from Live At Hammersmith, only for 40 solid minutes. In live performance, Kristeen is what we wish Kate Bush would have given us all along: broad, theatrical, and wonderful. Picture this: Wisp of a thing with pigtails, wearing Army surplus cutoff shorts over fishnet stockings, combat boots, and a camouflage tank top underneath a flak jacket. The jacket, and the cap she had on were all festooned with the detritus of American culture (she made some comment about wearing garbage): a Lays potato chip bag, an Oreo bag, various McDonald's logos, and other stuff I couldn't quite make out. She had an orange water pistol and two toy cell phones stuck in her belt, and tiny plastic binoculars in the vest pocket, all of which became parts of the show at some point.
     Yow, the show was LOUD!!! It's amazing how much noise one keyboard, one drummer, and one woman shrieking like a banshee can make.
     For some songs she let the keyboard play itself, while she went off to a mic standing off to the side of the stage where she had more room to thrash around. On the others she played the keyboard, and on all the songs Jeff White provided an excellent drum accompaniment.
     Oh yeah, and I liked the show too. :)(6/99)
     Every time I see Kristeen, she utterly cracks me up. But then I love what she's doing. She amuses the hell out of me. I usually can't listen to her albums (though Enemy has literally saved our lives on several late-night drives home) because after a while it all just starts to sound the same. But live, the whole Experience is just so much fun, I don't pass up the chance to see her. (11/99)
     At CBGB there were maybe 10 people there, but she didn't seem to notice nor care. She had a new bass player, a striking young woman named Sooky (sp?), who was considerably less full of sound than Brian, the former bass player. She was really good. I found it ironic that in CBGB, a place about the size of a closet that has a sound system that could power Shea Stadium during the playoffs, I didn't need earplugs for the first Kristeen show in memory. The sound was excellent. (12/00)
     Her set was *way* too short (just about 30 minutes), but it was wonderful. Driving, aggressive, loud—but the sound was good, at least through my earplugs. :) (12/03, meth@smoe.org)

Anyway, I went to see Kristeen Young this evening. The show was sparsely attended, and of the fifteen or so people in the room, only one (besides the bartender) was a woman—actually, a second woman came in toward the end of the show. An interesting demographic.
     Kristeen's hair was in narrow but not quite corn-rowed braids pulled back behind her head, except for one that fell across her face; the sum effect was to give her a Medusa-like quality. She wore a long-sleeved halter top with bands of sky blue and lime green divided by narrower stripes of violet and ivory. Her almost-floor-length skirt (over the standard black Doc Marten-style boots) matched the pattern of the top; on her bare stomach was printed the word "OBLIGATORY." She played keyboards and was joined by two guys—a somewhat distractingly fluid bass player and a drummer.
     For some reason—mainly my own inattention to postings about her, I'm sure—I somehow expected Kristeen Young to be on the "folkier" side of ecto. Zotz! As her set started, I thought, "Let's see... this is what would happen if Rachael Sage sold her soul to the devil, turned up the volume knob all the way, and started yelling..." But that didn't really capture it.
     For awhile I thought that Kristeen Young might be a sort of budget Veda Hille, but as the show went on I learned to appreciate Veda Hille's musicianship a lot more—every one of the songs in tonight's set had the same sort of percussive, repetitive keyboard stuff going on under it. At the beginning it's catchy, then it gets a little tiresome, and finally (with apologies to Don Keller, who seemed to be having a pretty good time) it reaches the point of ostinato ad absurdum.
     I think she actually has a pretty good voice, but with the volume turned up as loud as it was, little that she sang was anywhere near intelligible.
     I may go see her again some time, just to make sure, but my tentative judgment is that for me, this one's not a keeper. (11/99, psfblair@ix.netcom.com)

Recommended first album:

Enemy

Recordings:


meet miss young and her all boy band

Release info:

1997—World Domination Recordings—WD-0045-2

Availability:

Was distributed in the U.S. and U.K.; now out of print; See Kristeen Young's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of strong, strange edgy rock

Group members:

Jeff White—drums, percussion
Chris Sauer—bass
Kristeen—keys & vocals

Guest artists:

Marissa Panzeri and Samantha Taylor—rhyming children
Dan Navarro—trumpet

Produced by:

Dave Allen

Comments:

a nifty album. she uses the suddenly, tammy! formula (piano, bass, drums) to a slightly different effect: sounds more like a weird mix of lene lovich, emily bezar and a dash of Kate Bush's screechier stuff. mmmmm mmmmm, good! (woj@smoe.org)

This album is alternatively strident and beautiful, ranging all over the place stylistically. Interesting to note that there isn't any guitar in the album at all (it rocks and it certainly doesn't sound as though anything is missing!). Her voice sings through operatic moves like Emily Bezar and Kate Bush but with the spirit of Dalbello, but there are also some more mellow songs. Give it a listen! (Neile)

KaTeish wailing soprano over a more aggressive, less melodic, more atonal suddenly, tammy!-ish synth/bass/drums combo paints about as accurate picture as 2 lines can. Good stuff even if she seldom plays more than 2-3 tracks from it in concert anymore. (rjk1@cs.wustl.edu)

I got Meet Miss Young and her All-Boy Band and I was really not into it, but she wasn't as pissed off on that album, apparently, because I remember thinking the lyrics were cheesy.... (John.Drummond)


Enemy

Release info:

1999—self-released

Availability:

See Kristeen Young's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of strong, strange edgy rock

Group members:

Kristeen Young—keys and vocals

Guest artists:

Jeff White—drums, percussion
Chris Sauer—bass on 7 tracks
Brian Johnson—bass on track 3
Ken Sluiter—guitar on one track
Mitch Marlow—guitar on one track
Dan Polonski—bass on 3 tracks

Comments:

Just wanted to echo praise of Kristeen Young's Enemy. I picked it up at her show here last week and it's spent quite a bit of time in my player. The few songs that are immediately accessible live and the bits and pieces of lyrics that I'd been able to digest from repeated exposure both pointed to a step forward in songwriting (both conceptually and stylistically) from Meet Miss Young and Her All Boy Band, and finally being able to listen to it properly mixed with lyric sheet in hand that impression was definitely spot-on. (rjk1@cs.wustl.edu)

Wow...just wow. A few people have said that they think Enemy is, at least so far, the best album of 1999 and I agree that it certainly is a strong contender for that spot. I suspect it'll be in my CD player for some time to come. (mcurry@io.com)

I've played this disc to death. I love her hard-rock sound combined with the high, Kate-ish vocals, and she has killer hooks in the songs here. I just can't stop hearing "Sacrifice" whether it's hitting the repeat button yet again or the radio in my head hitting that repeat button. There's so passion here I can't help loving the whole album. (Neile)

Okay, y'all, after the rave reviews from everybody and their greasy granny on this list about Kristeen Young's new album, I went ahead and sent her 13 bucks...and Enemy arrived today...and JESUS...she got better...and she got WAYYYYY pissed, too! Whoa...she's just amazing...and so detached from her body, that's the neat thing...her lyrics are so just detached anti-biological it makes me wince. Like, "take my hand place in your pants now turn me 'round bend and pound" and "if something's growing inside me i call it a tumor baby" and "life-stealing baby gun" and "we had a fetus once i squished it like a bug it meant nothing to me"...Good Christ! I've been waiting for an album like this forEVER...a woman who's so vehement and pissed off and unrelenting and wow...Kristeen Young has done it. Every song just rules. It rules even more that she mentions Polly Jean in "Sacrifice", when talking about music being her lover. But wow, she even knows how to make bangin' keyboard-and-drum tracks...rule! Thanks, guys, for giving me the perfect psycho woman.... (John.Drummond)

The second song, especially, makes me think that this is the album Kate Bush would have made during The Dreaming sessions if she had a garage band backing her up rather than a Fairlight. When Kristeen yells "Go to Bed" it sounds so much like Dreaming-era Kate it's uncanny.
     Of course, she doesn't sound like Kate all the time. Her voice is pretty much all over the map. I can see the Lene Lovich comparisons, although I always associate a very clean "pop" sound with Lene, with the vocals always dominant in the mix.
     Kristeen's vocals tend to be much lower in the mix, making you want to play it really loud (not necessarily a bad thing as the music kind of demands it anyway). The music is good, but fairly rudimentary—no lavish string arrangements, world music influences, etc. If anything, the music tends to be "cluttered", particularly with percussion—something I find a lot of musicians falling prey to when the songs lack strong melody.
     The overall sound is rough and gives a feeling of very loose production with a punk sensibility. The styles differ pretty dramatically throughout the course of the album, though all of the songs are more on the noisy side. No "pretty" ballads on this one.
     Overall, I'd definitely say it's a winner. I need to sit down and listen to it with the lyrics in hand sometime, and once I do, I have a feeling I'll really grow to love it.
     I think most ectophiles who appreciate a little angst and eccentricity in their music will really like it. (jjhanson@att.net)

I'm liking it a lot too, although it does get pretty high on the Galas scale. Kristeen Young was a spicy Szechuan delight (the most authentic kind, with various disturbing things mixed in that turn out to be tasty once you bite down on them). (stevev@hexadecimal.uoregon.edu)

Even though I don't listen to this much (unless I'm driving home from somewhere late at night and need to be kept awake :), I do recognize it as a really good effort. Kristeen's music can sound same-y after a while, but I don't care—I love that piano-banging screeching stuff. :) Seeing her perform live has given me more of an appreciation for her recorded material, too. She is just as over-the-top as you would expect from her songs, and she totally cracks me up. Long may she wave! (meth@smoe.org)

This album is further confirmation that Kristeen Young is a force of nature: stunning, powerful, unique, and not for the faint of heart. Wow. (Neile)


Breasticles

Release info:

2003—self-released and N Records, Portugal

Availability:

Germany (see Kristeen Young's site)

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of strong, strange edgy rock

Group members:

Kristeen Young—keyboards, vocals

Guest artists:

Jeff White—drums
Mario McNulty—drums
Richard Fortus—guitars
Tony Visconti—bass, guitars
David Bowie—guest vocals on 1 track

Produced by:

Tony Visconti

Comments:

Startling, intense stuff. The duet with bowie is a hit. Touch tongues is beyond all words. My neck hair stood up when i heard it. Great stuff. On my best of 2002 list. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

My copy of Breasticles arrived last week and it is really spectacular (and I'm getting less twitchy about the title, even if I pronounce it like "Pericles"). In a way listening to Kristeen Young is like standing in front of a musical sandblaster, loud and abrasive and it helps to have a thick skin, but amazing if you can stand the grit. (stevev@hexadecimal.uoregon.edu)


X

Release info:

2004—Test Tube Baby

Availability:

See Kristeen Young's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of strong, strange edgy rock

Group members:

Kristeen Young—keyboards, vocals

Guest artists:

Keff White—drums
Tony Visconti—bass, guitars; string arrangement (9); horn arrangement (10)
David Matos—guitars
Brian Molko—guest vocals (1)

Produced by:

Tony Visconti

Comments:

A dark and powerful set of songs based around the Ten Commandments. Kristeen Young pushes boundaries, and her songs as always are here occasionally strident and angry but always well-constructed and catchy. The topics here seem particularly appropriate to her approach and sensibility. This is a strong album. I particularly like "Lie" and "Goddamn You You Scenesters" for their interesting sonic moves it takes. "Yesterday's Future Man" approaches pop at moments. (Neile)

The Orphans

Release info:

2007—Test Tube Baby

Availability:

See Kristeen Young's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of strong, strange edgy rock

Group members:

Kristeen Young—keyboards, vocals

Guest artists:

Tony Visconti—alto records (8), bowed double bass (11)
BabyJeff (White)—drums

Produced by:

Tony Visconti

Comments:

Moving to England didn't seem to affect her sound. This is very much of a piece with her previous recordings. I have to say, my preference now is for the tracks where she does something different from her usual sound: here it's "Life's Not Short, It's Sooo Long", the slowest track on the album. It really strikes me as powerful, especially the way it sticks out amongst the driving vocals/keys of the rest of the album. Also especially like "Dead Wrong" and "Before"—so I should say I like the last quarter of this album best. (Neile)

Music for Strippers, Hookers, and the Odd-Onlooker

Release info:

2009—Test Tube Baby

Availability:

See Kristeen Young's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of strong, strange edgy rock

Group members:

Kristeen Young—keyboards, vocals

Guest artists:

Baby Jef White—drums, percussion; background vocal (11)
Tony Visconti—string arrangement (7)
Ted Leo—especially percussion (5, 7)
Patrick Vaughn Stump—duet vocal (6)

Produced by:

Tony Visconti (one track by Morgan Visconti)

Comments:

ok this is officially shaping up to be a great year for music. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

Half of them are even harder-hitting than those on The Orphans (I didn't even think that was possible) and the rest are something else entirely, something GREAT. (lotterose @ gmail . com)


Further info:

Kristeen Young has a track, "Rotting on the Vine" on the Music from the Succubus Club compilation.

Kristeen Young has done some backing vocals on Morrissey's work.


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Entry last updated 2017-10-18 00:52:24.
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