FAME Review: Karen Haglof - Western Holiday
Karen Haglof - Western Holiday

Western Holiday

Karen Haglof

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

I can't decide if Karen Haglof's Western Holiday is in line with what Irwin Chusid calls 'incorrect music' and 'outsider music' (you might recall his Atrocious Music Hour show) or is just not very well recorded nor terribly hard worked at nor much more than a weekend get together with friends. Haglof hails from an oddly PRed alliance with avant-gardist Rhys Chatham, though she seems not to have carried much away from the experience. Promo lit claims her to also have dwelt within the noise rocker Band of Susans though Wikipedia makes no mention of that save to say she 'possibly' was, an oddly hedging citation. And then references are made in several places around the Net to her inclusion in The Crackers, The Problem, Never Never, Robert Longo, and the Interference. Sigh! Music promotion is nowadays like breakfast cereal ads: ya wonder what to make of the spiel. I guess promo writers aren't terribly taken up in their trade any more.

I like Dog in the Yard, and you can actually make out the lyrics there, but the opening title song left me muttering "What the eff??". Poorly recorded, engineered, mixed, and mastered (blame Steve Almaas, Mario Viele, Mitch Easter, and Scott Craggs—and, yes, it's that Mitch Easter), the disc comes across as though a radio dial position you can't quite tune in, though the slide guitar work is attractive. And really, there's not much to say beyond that. Musician's Girlfriend Blues is halfway decent but what's with the lyrics of yet another of endless airhead femmes who made a shitty choice in boyfriends and wants her ego boosted in recompense? I haven't looked lately, but is it still the 50s and no one told me? I don't get the damn memos anymore!

A mixture of folk, blues, country, and rock, everything gets lost in a mucky haze in Holiday. After all the abovementioned work in trying to be a musician near and far, if that indeed betokens much, Haglof at some point decided to instead become an oncologist and hematologist. I think she made the right choice. If, however, she reconsiders at some point in the future giving the rock schtick another dedicated try, I suggest she yo-heave the quartet of clowns who teched this mess up and get serious…and…and…oh Jesus!, CD Baby's naming her a 'rock goddess'. God help us.

And people wonder why I declaim 'fellow' crits.

Track List:

  • Western Holiday
  • Righteous Anger
  • Musician's Girlfriend Blues
  • Danger Point
  • Don't Straddle Fences
  • Demon Soul Clap
  • Saddle Bronc Rider / Barrel Girl
  • Dog in the Yard
  • Lincoln Letters (Haglof / Almaas)
  • 24-Hour Prayer
  • The Button Song
  • Won't Wake Up to You (Steven Almaas)
All songs written by Karen Haglof (and it shows)
except as noted (and they show too).

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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