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Molly Zenobia


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Beautiful & fierce edgy experimental pop piano

Status:

Most recent release, November Antique (2008)

See also:

The official Molly Zenobia web page

Comparisons:

Hints of a lot of different people, without really sounding like any of them. I hear a touch of PJ Harvey, a lot of Emily Bezar, Sarah Slean, and yes, a hint of Tori here and there. (10/01, neal)

She should be filed in the same drawer as Sarah Slean, Emm Gryner, and Fiona Apple—indeed, she sounds like a cross between all three, with some occasional flashes of Paula Cole thrown into the vocals. (5/01, meth@smoe.org)

Covers/own material:

Own material

General comments:

Put the name Molly Zenobia onto the radar. It's very earnest, piano-based stuff. She sounds young, but there's definitely a spark there. Yeah, she's got some maturing to do. But she has honest-to-god talent, and she's got a great career ahead of her. (5/01, meth@smoe.org)

Molly Zenobia was one of my big finds in 2001. Two albums of dense, rewarding, powerful, intricate music that definitely rewards repeated listening. I'm eagerly anticipating her musical output in the future. (10/01, neal)

Comments about live performance:

I saw Molly at the 2001 version of Ectofest. I'd never heard her beyond a few samples on her web site, and was very interested to see what she was all about. I think this was probably the highlight of the day for me, as it was the most striking and original set. She played keyboard, and had a drummer and guitar player with her. Her keyboard playing is rich and varied. Not quite as wild as Veda Hille's can get, but pretty expressive.
     She had a slightly awkward stage presence, but completely owned the park when she was playing and singing.
     The sound had touches of the familiar (assuming you listen to somewhat edgy ecto pianists) combined in unique ways, which gave it both a fresh and a familiar sound. (8/01, neal)

This young woman has one heck of a career ahead of her. Her voice, talent and overall vibe are quintessentially ecto. She just needs to get more comfortable up on stage, but that will come in time. I greatly look forward to hear what she will do next. (12/01)
     Today: our living room, Molly Zenobia. Due to excessive lameness on the part of the general public there were only 9 people here besides woj and myself, but Molly didn't care. She knew most of the people in the audience, and the result was that she was the polar opposite of how she was at ectofest last year: in between songs she told goofy, rambling stories and was very, very funny. (In that she was managing to out-Sarah-Slean Sarah Slean, if that makes any sense.) And when she played, she was just like she was at ectofest: really, really good. I couldn't tell you what she played, because as embarrassing as it is to admit I don't know the names of her songs...but I think there was a mixture of stuff from Wind Chains and Skin, as well as a couple new things. (She played my piano, yay. :) She's a good kid. I hope to get her back here sometime. (5/02, meth@smoe.org)

Molly Zenobia is a pianist/songwriter whose music I've been obsessed with since I first met her and saw her play, last September. I literally haven't missed a single one of her gigs since then, except for a couple she did in Los Angeles while visiting family. Molly's got a great new band she put together this spring. It's dark, powerful, gothic, rock, folk, newage, classical, ethereal, emotional. (11/01, cos@wbrs.org)

Recommended first album:

I prefer the broader arrangements and denser sound on Wind Chains, but not by much! (1/02, neal)

Recordings:


Skin: A Compilation of Gray and Wind Chains

Release info:

1999—purple banana records—70662

Availability:

From Molly's web page

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Molly Zenobia (billed as Molly Zenobia Matrisciano)—vocals, piano, exotic plastic water drum, misc. sillies, keyboard

Guest artists:

Marston Smith—cello
John Chamberlin—drums

Produced by:

Molly Zenobia Matarisciano, John Chamberlin

Comments:

I had her release Skin2 summers ago & was quite disgusted with it. It's not enough that she has some piano chops & tries to yell. Paula Cole is already guilty of that. Her songs lack lyrical oomph as far as I could tell.... (1/02, John.Drummond)

This is an assured and impressive debut. I bought it at the same time as Wind Chains, which clearly colored my impression of it. The arrangements on this CD are pretty sparse, consisting predominantly of piano. It sounds like Molly working out all the basic elements of her sound before trying to sit down with a dozen musicians to bring it all to life. Given that, these are fully realized songs that are effective in their own right. In some cases, the focus on just piano and voice made for more powerful, personal music. This has some great solo piano pieces and one of her oddest songs "Flea Circus". (1/02, neal)


Wind Chains

Release info:

2000—Purple Banana Records—204232

Availability:

From Molly's web page

Ecto priority:

High for fans of edgy fare

Group members:

Molly Zenobia—piano, vocals, keyboards, tin whistle, xylophone

Guest artists:

Dante Pascuzzo—bass, upright bass, Rhodes
Joel Bell—guitars (acoustic and electric), backup vocals, keyboard
John Chamberlin—keyboard
Nate Wood—drums
Sara Cinquemani—vocals

Produced by:

John Chamberlin, Molly Zenobia, Joel Bell

Comments:

Molly Zenobia is by turns surprising, scary, and intricate. Her voice slices her piano-based songs into little pieces with surgical precision. She plays her instrument of choice like she was born to do it. Ghostly moans and water splashes adorn the frosty "Mermaids". She makes her snakelike whisper resonate on "Silent Spring". Zenobia shares a few traits with the reigning queen of the piano, Tori Amos; but the style is all her own.
     If Wind Chains had a color it would be an icy blue with pitch black highlights. The music on it is slow, with a lot of feeling and enough twists and turns to make it challenging. Zenobia takes you down the tunnels of her mind and it's a rollercoaster ride. She is a natural born chiller. If gothic music lived up to its name this is what it would sound like. Highly recommended. (10/01, stjarnell@yahoo.com)

I adore this album from beginning to end. It's captivating from the alt-rock opener "Frozen" to the extended ballad "Night Light" that concludes the album. Not only does this album have excellent piano playing, but it's also got fully realized and accomplished band arrangements. Granted, her lyrics seem to be pretty abstract and personal, but I respond more to the visceral nature of the music, and it completely takes me away. Thematically and sonically, this is a very wet album :) (1/02, neal)


Thanks to Neal Copperman for work on this entry.

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2009-05-11 22:32:46.
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