Delux digi-pack CD w/ bonus CD 23 Tracks
“…delves into those bleak hours before the sun comes up, with raw emotion that's calculated to disturb. Stark, gorgeous songs weave a spell of deep-seated loneliness coupled with unceasing introspection; the album is a gut punch from the first hanging, ethereal note. “ – Salon.com
“Lullaby for Liquid Pig is deceptively potent; in just thirty minutes it divines your most closely held memories, guiding you farther farther back with endless, heartbreaking choruses…” Pitchforkmedia.com
“Lisa Germano pushes confessional intimacy to unsettling extremes …Unashamed candor often spells dreary self-indulgence. In Germano's insightful hands, it's fascinating and strangely exhilarating.” - Blender
Nobody makes records like Lisa Germano. This music seeps into your system with a warm glow like alcohol gently working its way into the bloodstream through the lining of an empty stomach. From the first moment you’re drifting weightless through Lisa’s gossamer world, where everything’s infused with a woozy, fairy tail melancholy, and maybe just a hint of the sour taste of last night’s wine. Liquid Pig is particularly beautifully and richly orchestrated, but also so intimate and saturated with a peculiar sadness (that can suddenly shift to joy or whimsy) you get the feeling you’re drifting through the dreams inside her head, led along by the soft breeze of her breathing. Lisa says that if you removed the breath from her voice there’d be nothing there. That particular quality is perhaps what draws you in. It really is the sound of a lover whispering a song or a secret in your ear. These songs are intimate, even “confessional,” but they’re certainly not limited to the personal. Seems to me, any human being with a sense of their own frailty ought to find a place for themselves in this beautiful and seductive music.
This album was first released in 2003 but the label that released it disappeared very soon thereafter, and it sadly went out of print. It’s my extreme pleasure to make it available now and I hope that this time it reaches the audience it deserves. - Michael Gira / Young God Records
LULLABY FOR LIQUID PIG: 1. Nobody’s Playing 2. Paper Doll 3. Liquid Pig 4. Pearls 5. Candy 6. Dream Glasses Off 7. From A Shell 8. It’s Party Time 9. All The Pretty Lies 10. Lullaby For Liquid Pig 11. Into The Night 12. …To Dream
BONUS CD – 20 songs (56 MINUTES): 1. It's A Rainbow (home recording) 2. (Live from Lisbon): Way Below The Radio / Guillotine / Moon Palace / Woodfloors / Pearls 3. My Imaginary Friend (home recording) 4. Flower Steps / From A Shell / Turning Into Betty (live from Largo Club) 5. Candy (home recording) 6. Liquid Pig (home recording) 7. In The Land Of The Fairies / In The Maybe World / Golden Cities (live from Lisbon) 8. Wire / Red Thread (live from Largo Club) 9. Dream Glasses Off (home recording) 10. It's Part Time (live from Lisbon) 11. Making Promises (home recording)
SOME REVIEWS / ARTICLES THAT APPEARED AT THE TIME OF LIQUID PIG’S FIRST RELEASE:
Hard luck, red wine and loneliness
Lisa Germano made her hauntingly beautiful record alone, then turned down a tour so she could take care of her cat.
By Julene Snyder
April 1, 2003 | It's not surprising to learn that as a child, Lisa Germano delighted in self-inflicted pain. In some ways, she's never stopped picking her open wounds.
What's unexpected is that she doesn't mean it literally. "I used to lock myself in a closet and torture myself," she recalls. "Not cut myself or anything, but I'd have these childhood fantasies where everything was awful. I'd make myself cry, and then it would end when I was crying so hard that the prince would have to come and save me."
Now in her mid-40s, she's long since stopped waiting to be rescued. "I don't believe there's a prince coming anymore," she laughs. "I'm just sick of the whole thing." On the phone from her Los Angeles home, Germano sounds incongruously upbeat for a self-described "fairly dark person," but she blames her perkiness on morning coffee. Her demons tend to come out at night.
Boy, do they. Germano's latest effort, "Lullaby for a Liquid Pig," delves into those bleak hours before the sun comes up with raw emotion that's calculated to disturb. Stark, gorgeous songs weave a spell of deep-seated loneliness coupled with unceasing introspection; the album is a gut punch from the first hanging, ethereal note. "These are your secrets, hidden inside," she murmurs on the opening track, then lays them out, one by one, like canapés at a suicide's farewell party.
The tone is hardly unexpected, as Lisa Germano has never made music for the faint-hearted. For the last decade, the multi-instrumentalist (violin, piano, recorder, guitar, voice, etc.) has specialized in delving into the deepest crevices of her psyche, exposing nerves, tendons and viscera until she reaches the white gleam of bone. While critical acclaim has been lavish for album after album -- six since her self-released 1991 debut -- audiences have not flocked to buy Germano's records. This is a crying shame, as her intimate, near-whispered delivery and spare arrangements tower above your average chart-toppers' best efforts.
Germano's chosen subject matter doubtless has something to do with the elusiveness of financial success, especially in the context of a recording industry that celebrates superficiality. The bleak "Happiness" (1994) explored the depths and valleys of depression and relationships with breathtaking directness. ("You wish you were pretty, but you're not … ha ha ha/ But your baby loves you, he tells you so all the time/ Oh, that must be why you're so happy together.") Yikes.
Her subsequent full-length release on 4AD, the harrowing "Geek the Girl," is an even more devastating dose of raw sensation. (Liner notes describe the record as the tale of a girl who is "constantly taken advantage of sexually" yet who still dreams of "loving a man in hopes that he can save her from her shit life What a geek!") That album's pièce de résistance, the nervous-breakdown-inducing "A Psychopath," culminates with a recording of an actual 911 call made by a terrified woman as an intruder breaks into her home. It's deeply chilling and more than a little creepy.
True to form, 1996's "Excerpts from a Love Circus" was a muffled scream, as Germano wielded her sweet, often-tentative voice with a surgeon's precision. The matter-of-fact self-loathing of "I Love a Snot" reveals flashes of humor and self-knowledge: "Tubby tubby butt, tubby tubby face, tubby tubby stomach when I am with you Icky icky breath, each and every kiss you're a snot, and I adore you."
But honesty doesn't pay the bills. 1998's "Slide" turned out to be her last with indie label 4AD. In spite of reviews lauding the work and a burgeoning sense of hope woven through the record, it ended up selling a disappointing 6,000 copies. "They're still my friends, but I understood," Germano says about 4AD's decision to drop her. "They've got to pay the bills." - - - - - - - - - -
Still, the muse doesn't stop coming just because payday's been canceled. Germano's been tinkering with "Lullaby for a Liquid Pig" for the past three years -- in spite of having no record label and no money.
"I don't even want to make a lot of money. Just enough," she says. "I don't know how people make it. I've stripped away my life so I just live in a room." (Her income comes mostly from her day job at Book Soup on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, where she's worked on and off for five years.)
So in true DIY fashion, Germano recorded "Lullaby's" 12 songs at home -- a practice she's become accustomed to over the years -- and ultimately put them on the audio-editing software ProTools so that she could send tracks to various musicians to get their input from a distance, since a lack of finances prohibited working together in person.
With contributions by former Crowded House frontman Neil Finn, ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, and Wendy Melvoin (Wendy and Lisa/Prince), "Lullaby for a Liquid Pig" is an excellent -- albeit deeply disturbing -- addition to the Germano catalog. It's slotted to be released in April on ArtistDirect's new Ineffable label.
At first listen, one would think that the album is unambiguously about the seductions of booze (specifically, red wine). And while it's true that many of the songs on "Lullaby for a Liquid Pig" have to do with alcohol, Germano says that in talking about the album, she's come to the conclusion that it's not really about drinking at all.
"I've had to figure out what it is about," she muses. "You strip away and strip away and strip away until you get to the real meaning. And even though some of the songs are about alcohol, it's mostly about loneliness, about being thirsty, being thirsty for more than you can get -- than you should get -- it's about being needy, about being a pig."
Germano believes that drinking every night masks a deeper void. "There's something about alcohol that's either 'I'm a big drunk alcoholic' or 'Let's go out and have some fun,'" she says. "But it's really about the behavior. A lot of us have this need, this behavior. We have our vices. Some people have sex with a million people, some do heroin, some drink, but it all comes from the same lonely place."
She laughs and tries to lighten the mood. "To mock your own behavior makes it less sad. Even the title [of the album] is mocking myself, that 'Everything is about me' thing, being so self-consumed. There's just too much me sometimes."
Of course, "too much me" is the very essence of Lisa Germano's work, and "Lullaby for a Liquid Pig" is no exception. The hazy, almost underwater vocals of the opening track, "Nobody's Playing," are accompanied by a hesitant melody picked out on piano keys. When she murmurs, "Circles and circles/ Places to drown/ All that you feel/ Is you're going down," there's a doomed inevitability, a noose that only grows tighter as the album progresses.
The discordant opening of "Liquid Pig" is a rumination on morning-after regret, Germano's accusatory whisper "Who did you call/ What did you say" a precursor to the certainty that whatever you said, whatever you did, you'll doubtless do it again -- and feel like shit the next day. The delicate prettiness of "Pearls" is laced with self-loathing ("Hurry world/ Whirl and whirl/ Stop when you fall down") and the siren call of home.
"That song is about alcohol," Germano says. "When you look inside, you see some really bad shit. But then, as you're getting drunk, you feel like you're home. But that's not right, getting drunk to do that. It strips it away and then puts it back in. When you hate yourself, all sorts of stuff grows, but in the end there's nothing to learn from alcohol."
There's a raw quality to Germano's voice on many of the songs here that she freely admits is owed to her vices: "I like some smoke and some wine when I sing," she says. "It makes me like the sound of my voice. It doesn't make it gravelly, doesn't make me turn into Marianne Faithfull. It just deepens it." She almost sounds giddy on the song "Party Time" when she drawls, "And I smell like wine, most of the time, a big red wine."
The album's title track flirts with the idea of going cold turkey before quickly backpedaling: "Well, if I do stop/ Or if I don't stop/ It doesn't matter/ I probably won't stop." A fluid segue into the next song, the almost dizzy introspection of "Into the Night," finds Germano making a laundry list of denial: "What not to see/ What not to hear/ What not to be/ When you begin seeing your sins."
A slender hint of hope snakes through the album's last track "To Dream," tempered with a heartbreaking fragility. Of course, after all that's come before, the listener clings to lines like "Don't give up your dream/ It's really all you have/ And I don't want to see you die," hoping that wishing might just be enough -- just this once -- to make it so. - - - - - - - - - -
Germano's labor of love is coming out on veteran record producer Tony Berg's newest venture, Ineffable Records (billed as a "creative collective" of artists). The release will almost certainly not change Germano's immediate financial situation; she had to plunk down nearly every penny she got as an advance to pay the vet bills for her ailing cat, 12-year-old Miamo-Tutti. "The cat got really sick really quickly," Germano says. "I had to feed him by hand and give him medicine a couple of times a day." The sick kitty meant that she had to postpone a planned tour with former Crowded House frontman Neil Finn, a decision she says Finn supported wholeheartedly.
"John Cougar probably would have had me arrested," she laughs, imagining telling the hard-rocking Mellencamp that she couldn't go on the road because she had to nurse an ailing kitty. Since nearly every article ever printed about Germano mentions her one-time affiliation with his band as a fiddle player, she kicks herself for bringing it up. "I've tried so hard not to have the press mention it!" she laughs.
Besides her dark past as a backup musician for heartland rocker Mellencamp, Germano has another incongruous skeleton in her closet. In high school, she was a cheerleader. "I didn't expect to make it and was shocked when I did," she recalls. "Even then I was not a positive person. I got yelled at every day for not smiling, so I quit." She laughs when she tells the story, but she sounds as if she's still unsure as to what went wrong. "I thought I was smiling," she says ruefully.
Sadly, Miamo-Tutti (who Germano describes as a "very Italian cat), ultimately didn't make it. ("I'm sure [he's] having a big party with all the other cats up there," she says in an update on her Web site.) Perhaps he'll make an appearance in a future Germano song; a likely scenario, given her penchant for turning episodes from her own life into art.
When asked what it's like to perform such personal material live, Germano is matter-of-fact. "These songs really work best when I have a sense of humor," she explains. "It lets the audience think, 'This is hard, but at least she's all right.'" While she doesn't get stage fright, she does say that wine can help her to focus better. "It's important that I really start breathing before I go on. My voice is all breath. Without the breathing, there's nothing there."
All Music Guide
by Heather Phares
Lisa Germano's music has always had an out-of-time quality to it, but never more so than in the current musical climate, where toughness and a jaded attitude dominate almost every style of music. The almost complete lack of hardness -- both sonically and lyrically -- in Germano's work is both a blessing and a curse, perhaps limiting her audience but making an indelible impression on those she does reach. Her fans won't be disappointed by Lullaby for Liquid Pig, a concise but evocative album that sounds all the sweeter due to her long absence from the music scene. Once again, though, the strangely timeless quality to her music makes the long gap between Slide and this album irrelevant -- Lullaby for Liquid Pig is very much of a piece with the rest of her gently brave, individualistic work. While her music has never chased trends, the weightless, shimmering sound that Germano has pursued since Geek the Girl still manages to sound much fresher and more innovative than that of artists who reinvent their sound with every album. Like Geek the Girl, Lullaby for Liquid Pig is something of a concept album, revolving around addictions of all kinds, not just the alcoholism that the album's title obliquely alludes to. It's not so much the addictions themselves that Germano explores as the desires and delusions behind them, which she expresses beautifully on "Dream Glasses Off" and "From a Shell," a pair of songs that melt into each other and repeat the phrases, "someday someone is gonna love you" and "it's the buzz, it's the buzz," as desperate mantras. Whether it's love or alcohol, the album says, it's the same addiction to hoping that someone or something is going to save you from yourself. While Lullaby for Liquid Pig's subject matter is typically dark, on the whole the album is more like the bittersweet meditations on Excerpts From a Love Circus and Slide than the truly tormented-sounding Geek the Girl, although in the topsy-turvy world Germano creates here, the superficially happy-sounding songs carry more danger than the brooding ones. The weirdly loopy "Candy," with its bright and hazy textures, and "It's Party Time," which sounds like bubblegum pop that's been broken and reconfigured and alludes to the Troggs' "Love Is All Around" and Neil Diamond's "Red Red Wine," have a disturbingly woozy quality that sounds like sinking into a blissfully ignorant narcotic cocoon. Conversely, the album closes with a few dark yet oddly hopeful songs like "Into the Night" and "…To Dream" that suggest that some kind of happy ending is still within reach. Imparting its wisdom and melodies in fits and flashes, Lullaby for Liquid Pig is nevertheless one of Lisa Germano's most accessible works yet; with any luck more fans of challenging but beautiful music will catch up with her this time around.
Lullaby for Liquid Pig
I'd wager that most of our readers would otherwise ignore what's sure to be among the more spectral and alluring records of 2003 because its author was once a precious Lilith Fair poetess. You'll probably shiver to learn she previously made her living-- for the better part of a decade-- as John Mellencamp's violinist. In fact, I dare say most of you would mistake Lisa Germano for Meredith Brooks.
Germano, however, has certainly earned some measure of disinterest and even disdain thanks to her uncomfortably maudlin records, all wincingly breathy and for the most part bereft of focus. On her first two full-lengths, her violin playing is still saddled by the stereotypical country melodies she spun for Mellencamp's renowned backing band; her second album Happiness was a learning and chaotic affair, and didn't make much of a splash until Capitol Records allowed her to re-sequence and re-release it on 4AD (a lot of people will tell you it was remixed as well-- it wasn't).
Once on 4AD, the precociously pouting "Dresses Song" caught a college radio breeze, introducing us to her moan, which was instantly compared to Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval. But while Sandoval had a more terrestrial timbre, Germano followed her sleeve-tugging, cutely awkward drawl into a melodramatic, overproduced and compositionally slight third album of effects-pedal atmosphere, 1994's Geek the Girl. Her most recent records-- Excerpts from a Love Circus (1996) and Slide (1998)-- hid a handful of great songs like "I Love a Snot" (fantastically remixed by one Tchad Blake) and the solemn "Wood Floors", but were beset by more incongruous, confused instrumentation.
It's an odd notion but the music is really what's detracted from Germano's increasingly excellent songwriting all these years. I have to assume she begins with lyrics, and whether or not she skirted a sound comparable to her constant critical companions Mazzy Star, on her bizarrely-titled sixth album Lullaby for Liquid Pig, she's stopped trying to work her words into traditional rock instrumentation and started building tunes around her effortless voice, tense but never breaking. Save one glaring failure-- "Liquid Pig", an underdeveloped experiment in distorted, drunken chaos-- these depressed and depressing drawing room dirges wring regret from the coldest and oldest of hearts.
The record comes into focus with "Nobody's Playing", an introduction that clearly defines a piano-scored slip into Americana, falling through memories real or imagined, recorded on stuttering kinetoscope and dug up a century later. On "Paper Doll", it seems every word is a chorus unto itself, swelling and releasing in an instant, until a multitracked passage longingly repeats, "You can always play with me," perhaps not caring whether the game is child-like, loving or destructive.
"Pearls" echoes the record's opener, and if you'll skip "Liquid Pig", it's around this time-- just ten minutes in-- that it strikes you how easily these devastating choruses come for Germano. And they aren't heavy-handed breakup anthems or fatuous VH-1 ballads calling back to tender teenage dreams-- Germano is famously adult and obscure with imagery, and continues in her tradition. As with roughly half the tracks on Lullaby for Liquid Pig, the sound of a breeze blowing across a cheap microphone is mixed in as "Pearls" ends. It could come off as a cheap device in lesser hands; I've checked my windows more than once.
This daydreamt, cinematic mode is most powerfully explored by the stumbling, bemused "From a Shell", a hugely poetic and far too brief resignation that refuses to fall into despair in the wake of personal tragedy. Without a doubt, these are Lisa Germano's finest three minutes on record, as resonant in their doleful simplicity as any feature-length post-modern melodrama.
Of the four songs that depart from near-solo accompaniment, three are successful, if not outstanding. "It's Party Time" is instantly catchy but also instantly recognizable, an unwitting, note-for-note duplication of Beat Happening's most famous tune, "Cast a Shadow"; its loose rhythm, clean production and topical similarity to UB40's "Red Red Wine" also invoke that track done at a speedy clip. "All the Pretty Lies" follows, by far the most sonically menacing piece on the record, a twisted pile of vines and dead leaves collecting in the corner of a collapsed house, leading into the shimmering strings of the title track, which isn't powerful so much as captivating as it spins away toward this brief record's hazy horizon.
Lullaby for Liquid Pig is deceptively potent; in just thirty minutes it divines your most closely held memories, guiding you farther and farther back with endless, heartbreaking choruses. Though its divergent tracks are merely distractions, the record would push either monotony or melodrama without them; they reassure us she hasn't forgotten the self-assured, sexed-up smirk that sold so many of us down her dizzy rollercoaster in the 1990s. Where she once darted past our baiting stares with coy glimpses and we'll-see winks, after ten years Lisa Germano is no longer playing in those fields, resolved, somewhat remorseful and shooting back an unwavering, crushing gaze.
-Chris Ott, April 18, 2003
LULLABY FOR LIQUID PIG
(MELANCHOLY MUSINGS: Lisa Germano's Lullaby for the Liquid Pig is built on her exquisite piano chordings, her whispery vocals, and the moody poetics and subtle melodies of her songwriting.
Once known primarily as John Mellencamp’s able violinist, Lisa Germano has, over the course of five previous albums, established herself as a unique and challenging artists in her own right. Her twisted saga of meandering melancholy musings continues on Lullaby for the Liquid Pig, yet another album built on the foundation of Germano’s exquisite if often minimalist piano chordings and her wispy whisper of a voice — a voice perfectly suited to the moody poetics and subtle melodies that weave their way through her songwriting. The title track alludes to drug-induced ramblings. "I need a fix/A little one/Then it’s over/Then I’m done," she intones, as the song spirals slowly downward. "Dream Glasses Off" perpetuates her signature sullenness with lyrics like "Before when I opened the door/Let the happiness in/Closed again." Complementing Germano’s never-changing mood is her meticulous production, which is a study in understated beauty and sadness that bolsters her stream-of-consciousness abstractions.
Lullaby for Liquid Pig
You'd be this depressed too if you were once John Mellencamp's violin player
Reviewed by Jon Young
Lisa Germano pushes confessional intimacy to unsettling extremes. Her sixth similar album, her strongest yet, vividly depicts the folly of treating loneliness with liberal doses of alcohol. But this is no lecture on substance abuse: With her uneasy-sigh voice and gorgeous yet wobbly melodies, Germano speaks from experience, portraying sodden isolation as a twisted state of grace. "You know what I mean/ I don't mean anything," she murmurs in "It's Party Time"; on the droopy "Dream Glasses Off" she declares, "Someday someone/Is gonna love you" with an utter lack of conviction. Subtle support from Neil Finn and Johnny Marr pales next to this anguished persona. Unashamed candor often spells dreary self-indulgence. In Germano's insightful hands, it's fascinating and strangely exhilirating.