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Tribe


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Indie rock

Status:

Disbanded—final album Sleeper (1993)

See also:

A Tribe site

Comparisons:

my bloody valentine, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Blondie, Martha and the Muffins

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

This is the band I started following around after 'til tuesday went national. In fact, an extremely memorable show that I had the privilege of seeing in a tiny club called Nightstage in the late eighties featured Tribe as an opening act for Sarah McLachlan touring for her first album! That was a night to remember. Tribe is a band worth seeking out. It's a crime that they broke up, I really thought they were going to break nationally. They're dark, synth-driven, hard-edged goth sound was just a tiny bit too late for fashion. Ah, what ifs? (colford@chlotrudis.org)

Tribe was a group of about 8 years standing, from the boston area. they had a female lead vocalist (surprise! ;), plus female backing vocals and occasional leads from the keyboard player. guitar, bass, and drums rounded out the mix. everyone 'cept the drummer shared in the songwriting, usually in pairs, which led to a widely varied musical and lyrical style.
     musically, the band features fairly complex arrangements with strong melodies and a contrapuntal feel. Janet's vocals are rich and wide-ranging; she can growl and screech but she spends most of her time truly singing. When she goes over the top (at the end of "Jakpot" [on both here at the home and abort], for example), i can only compare here to Kate Bush in effect (not in sound, however, for you-er-us KaTe-purists ;) Terri's voice is closer to the alternative standard, clear, high, and low in vibrato, but her involvement with the music and lyrics is far deeper than others of that style. Eric and Greg add vocals in many of the songs—when they all get going the weave of voices is dizzying. Eric's guitar is often tough, angry, with soaring melodic lines and lots of effects and a complete lack of grunge, metal, and alternative clichés. Terri's keyboards are simple, textural, and catchy—i suspect she has classical training, given the deftness of the parts. Greg's bass actually has rhythmic and melodic significance (all too rare in the "alternative" genre). and David's drumming is quirky and original (check out "Rescue Me"!), but gets people jumping about the dance floor.
     the first two CDs have a clean, crisp sound. on sleeper the keyboards and drums are a bit further back in a swamp of reverb but the clever bits are still audible.
     lyrically, the group has a knack for alternating unusual topics such as the lottery and the "supercollider" particle accelerator with songs about abusive relationships, over-possessive parents, substance abuse. they have an eye for details that makes the songs real and compelling; the feeling i get is "yes, i know exactly what they mean, i've been there, why didn't i see it that way?".
     early releases include a single and EP on rutabaga records—almost impossible to find, even on boston. they have three CDs: here at the home (1990) and abort (1991)—rerecordings of most of their previous stuff, plus four new and very very very good songs, and sleeper, 1993. sleeper has a denser mix, with a 4AD/my bloody valentine flavor, but a few listens reveal all the intricate melodies and rhythms of their earlier work. i suspect that this one is brilliant too ;)
     if you have gotten this far, sorry for all the gushing, but this group deserves it! so stop sittin' around reading, go buy some CDs already! (bossert@suddensound.com)

Musically, Tribe plays a definite strong flavor of rock. However, their whole sound is smudged, muddied, and smeared together into an amorphous lump. However, several items keep this recipe from actually becoming an amorphous lump: a strong driving beat keeps the music moving at a good strong clip; many wonderful musical touches rise about the murk, such as sparkling bright guitar work (I'm a sucker for that stuff :) ) and odd and different musical sounds (ditto :) ). Tribe also has not forgotten melody, and strong ones mark most songs on their albums. In turn, that melody is carried by Janet LaValley's voice, a rich full husky voice that is half-submerged in the music, sometimes rising above it, sometimes sinking below it. When stirred together, the ingredients make a fun and wonderful whole.
     Lyrically, with LaValley's voice buried a bit, it's hard to understand the words. The enclosed lyric sheets clear up that problem, but do little to clear up the meanings. Many of the songs are obscure, abstract, and downright impenetrable to me. The ones I could penetrate reveal a wonderfully sharp sweet spicy vicious cynical wit. The subjects range all over, including areas that may never have been visited by songs before (or again :) ), such as the "Supercollider". (dbx@aa.net)

Take Martha and the Muffins' voice and some of the sound, mix with Siouxsie and the Banshees' sound and some vintage Blondie to get close to Tribe. (zzkwhite@ktwu.wuacc.edu)

Comments about live performance:

live, the group was every bit as wonderful and extraordinary. they had a lot of fun live, occasionally switching places so that David sang, Terri played drums, etc. the bottom line was that they could really play, and their sincerity made songs like "Payphone" and "Vigil" simply overwhelming (and "Abort" when the whole audience was shouting along with "what's that?/too loud?/ ah, come on!" ;). (bossert@suddensound.com)

Recommended first album:

Any

Recordings:


Here at the Home

Release info:

1990—Rutabaga Records—CD-003

Availability:

Long out of print and hard to find

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for rock fans

Group members:

Terri Barous—keyboards, vocals
Eric Brosius—guitar
Janet LaValley—vocals
Greg LoPiccolo—bass
David Penzo—drums

Produced by:

Tribe

Comments:

you'll never ever find Here at the Home,, heh heh, but go out RIGHT NOW and buy Abort and Sleeper and mourn with great mournliness that they've *sob* broken up and you'll never see them cover "Godzilla" live and get to talk to them. um, was i gonna say something? mm, well, it'll have to wait until the end of "Vigil", which is one of my favorite songs by anyone ever....
     All but two of the songs were rerecorded for the next album, but worth it for those two songs and the original 4-track recording of "Abort". (bossert@suddensound.com)

abort and here at the home are essentially the same collection of songs, but feature different versions and different orders. either album is great. here at the home features a stunning version of the song "abort". get this cd if you can. (woj@smoe.org)


Abort

Release info:

1991—Slash/Warner (U.S.A.)—9 26676-2

Availability:

Out of print, but can be found in used stores if you look long and hard

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for rock fans

Group members:

Terri Barous—keyboards, vocals
Eric Brosius—guitar, vocals
Janet LaValley—lead vocals
Greg LoPiccolo—bass, vocals
David Penzo—drums

Produced by:

Chris Sheldon and Gil Norton

Comments:

I'm liking Abort at least as much as Sleeper. (stevev@hexadecimal.uoregon.edu)

the first five songs off abort are probably one of the greatest first five songs off any album—the most numbingly stunning sequence of five songs known to humanity. plus they make a great soundtrack for driving over narrow, un-guardrailed roads through the spanish mountains.
     abort and here at the home are essentially the same collection of songs, but feature different versions and different orders. either album is great. (woj@smoe.org)

this album is just utterly brilliant. (bossert@suddensound.com)


Sleeper

Release info:

1993—Slash/Warner—9362-45273-2

Availability:

Out of print but wide on release, and so can be found in used bins if you look long enough

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for rock fans

Group members:

Janet LaValley—vocals
Terri Barous—keyboards, vocals
Eric Brosius—guitar, vocals
Greg LoPiccolo—bass, vocals
David Penzo—drums

Produced by:

John Porter

Comments:

I've had Sleeper for a while and really like several of the tracks on it. It's too bad they disbanded. They really seemed to be going somewhere. (stevev@hexadecimal.uoregon.edu)

Okay, it's not Abort, we all know that, but Tribe overcome grisly, murky production (bring back Chris Sheldon!!!) with their power-guitar-soaked melodic pop. Best heard loud. Terri should sing more. And I want them to tour here. Waaah. (ahoran@ozemail.com.au)

Although it isn't in my opinion as good as Here at the Home, their debut, it still is a very good album. (kyrlidis@earthlink.net)

Cool...nice vocals, layered music...witty lyrics...yeah. (laurel@pobox.com)

Although I enjoyed their first album, Abort, more, Sleeper shows why Tribe should be a national success. I don't understand why it didn't happen. "Supercollider" is quintessential Tribe. (colford@chlotrudis.org)

What can I say, except it's wonderful stuff. "Alternative" but kinda poppy, edgy and always fun. These folks were going places, and this is the album that should have started them on their way. (meth@smoe.org)

Well, Tribe proved that the first album wasn't a fluke. Absolutely catchy rock and no clunkers in the bunch. Why doesn't the world know about this band? (pmcohen@voicenet.com)

I thoroughly enjoy this album, as I like every song, except one, and even that one isn't bad. Several of them are just plain fantastic! A must have. This gets the "word rarely heard in a pop song" award: a couple of nice candidates, but I'll go with "supercollider", especially since it's also a song title, and the Tom Lehrer award (for a tortured rhyme): Anna/at night. (dbx@aa.net)

Pretty cool. I knew I was going to like it when it opened with Janet LaValley singing counterpoint to the bells. (dbucak@netaxs.com)

If any one band deserved to be the Next Big Thing, it was this one; with any luck, they should have been on their way with the single "Supercollider." Okay, it's not Abort, but few things could be. Intelligent music that rocks out too...what a concept! (drumz@best.com)


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