Super Freedom Rock

Grand Duchy’s “Petit Four” (Frank Black/Violet Clark)

I hate to call her “Frank Black’s wife,” but it’s an inevitable connection. Violet Clark (and Black) go by the name of “Grand Duchy,” but it’s largely her project and song-writing. A lot of it is largely unknown but widely available work. She released “Petit Four” in 2009. It sounded like an extension of the Pixies work quite often, but it becomes apparent she is really into early 80’s new wave and progressive art rock that’s largely focused on electronic drums and synthesizers. It’s an interesting dynamic when set against Black’s guitar, vocals and style – making it completely worthwhile with numerous songs any Pixies’ or Black fan would like (regardless of his involvement). It’s akin to J. Mascis playing drums for “Witch” (whom I dig), why not add that kind of talent to your mix?

Cure cover – “Strange Day”

Their debut of sorts was the cover of The Cure’s “Strange Day.” Violet’s talent/voice is evident and Black’s chopping, distorted guitar gives it a real Grand Duchy feel. That great dynamic is present throughout “Petit Four.” Violet’s voice is as appealing as it is refreshing, unique but familiar, and carries every song she takes part in. It is a bit odd that her singing voice sounds so similar to Deal’s. She also plays bass. She literally could step into any Pixies show and not miss a beat. No intent there, just an observation (Violet plays bass during live Duchy shows quite often).

Grand Duchy – “Long Song” – Petit Four

Duchy’s 2nd album “Let The People Speak” was released in 2012. It’s much more focused on Violet’s synth and art influences, and takes a noticeable turn from “Petite Four’s” Black-infused sound. It’s quite interesting, especially her videos, but the songs are generally quite different.

In “Shady” Black is the lead voice, but it never goes as far as to take over the song, but makes me think she’s perfectly fine with it being a duo, which is neat.

Finally, “Black Suit” from the Petit Four album in 2009, sounds like an early Black solo song, that could easily be a Pixies’ song with Violet’s vocals. It’s fantastic, and delves back into Black’s early fascination of sorts with UFO’s and the underworld.

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