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CD Review: Exene Cervenka's Somewhere Gone

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The Deal: Exene Cervenka finally finds the melody.

The Good: Cervenka has finally learned how to sing. Even at her mellowest in the Knitters, Exene's vocals had a gnarly edge that could rattle your back teeth. With X, her trademark yowl sounded like a blend of Grace Slick on a bad trip and a chainsaw. But for her first solo album since 1990's Running Scared, Cervenka has had a vocal makeover and the results are quite pleasant. For most of the record, she harmonizes beautifully with Dead Rock West vocalist Cindy Wasserman. That's right, Exene actually harmonizes. It's a pretty record, folky, with a hint of punk-flavored country on the title track. "Trojan Horse," with just Cervenka's guitar and her and Wasserman's vocals, is the most melodic offering of her career. She even manages to sound like Neko Case on "Insane Thing."

The Bad: Makes you feel bad about bashing her vocal attempts with X, trying to sing with John Doe, who had perfect pitch.

The Verdict: It's not just a novelty. It's a record that you'll actually listen to over and over for the melody and the content. Punks do grow up. It's about time.

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