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Phranc's Seven-Year Itch?

August 18, 2005 By:
M.J. Fine, JE Feature
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It took Jacob seven years to get Leah, and seven more to earn Rachel.

Phranc fans know the feeling: The singer-songwriter born Susan Gottlieb took seven years between 1991's sweet-and-sour "Positively Phranc" and 1998's mostly sour "Milkman," and seven years later, she's due for a follow-up.

Returning to the road to mark the 20th anniversary of her debut, "Folksinger," the Los Angeles-based, um, folksinger wound up warming up at the Trocadero recently for X offshoot "The Knitters," who're celebrating the 20th anniversary of their own "Poor Little Critter on the Road."

Phranc and the X kids got their start in the same punk scene, but while John Doe and Exene Cervenka turned their acoustic experiments into a side gig, Phranc swung the other way, quitting her hardcore bands to launch her career as an out-and-proud butch lesbian folkie. Her first three albums balanced wit and sincerity, but on "Milkman," which dealt with her brother's violent death, she seemed to have stumbled upon a darker path.

With no follow-up for seven years, it may as well have been a dead end. But she hasn't been idle; check out the 2001 documentary, "Lifetime Guarantee: Phranc's Adventure in Plastic," to watch her balance family life and her career as a Tupperware queen.

Still, it's been too long since she churned out such gems as "Dress Code," "Take Off Your Swastika" and "Everywhere I Go (I Hear the Go-Go's)." With a new album in the works, she may pop out another one before 2012.

Coming to Town
If you prefer your single-named performers a bit more esoteric, then consider "Colleen," who recently headlined a mostly instrumental bill down the block from the Troc at Space.

The Parisian-born "Colleen" (nee Cecile Schott) uses organs, strings and birdcalls to produce calming soundscapes.

On her recent "The Golden Morning Breaks," she exchanges the ambient electronics of her debut, "Everyone Alive Wants Answers," for an array of acoustic instruments from around the world. Her new tools are earthier, but their effect is no less hypnotic.

For a spit-shined take on garage rock, Holly Golightly - recently at the Khyber - offers "My First Holly Golightly Album," as good a place to start as any, with 17 songs spanning her decade-long solo career.

The native Londoner is as at home with cover songs as she is with her own compositions.

Nancy Sinatra was born to get the Golightly treatment.

• • •

Local bands rule the rest of the month:

• "Get Married," the latest release from the Snow Fairies, is as cute as a kindergarten crush, and with 12 songs clocking in at under 24 minutes, it's just as fleeting. (Full disclosure: It's impossible to know guitarist Neal Ramirez and not be his pal; I've known him since college.)

Singer Rose Bochansky some-how sounds innocent and all-knowing throughout; keyboardist Melissa Kramer adds depth, particularly in "Love Song With a Happy Ending."

Philadelphia drivers might have a soft spot for "Death on the Schuylkill," but even suburbanites on the right side of the Delaware can feel smug singing along to the catchy chorus of "The Stone Pony": "New Jersey's only good for two things: beer and bowling." They're coming to the Millcreek Tavern, 4200 Chester Ave., Philadelphia.

• The Teeth, fresh off a national tour to support "Carry the Wood," return home to Philadelphia on Aug. 20 at the North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St. Fronted by twins Aaron and Peter MoDavis, the Teeth take their cues from the Beatles, the Kinks and the Who.

From the opening sway of "So Long" to the bouncy reprise of "Wake," their fuzzy Anglophilia should slake the thirst of anyone who hasn't gotten over the British Invasion.

• Hail Social's brand-new self-titled album drops rock's gravity into dance rhythms, and it just might be ready for the radio. Judge for yourself Aug. 28 at First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St., Philadelphia.

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