BACK ISSUE #406

Music: Lisa Loeb
American slacker girl Lisa Loeb seems to have (barely) survived the implosion of the mid-'90s “singer-songwriter” bubble.

And not without some help from her steadfast fans in Japan. Recently, Loeb repaid the favor by making her new Cake And Pie album available first in this country, and next month she will back it up with a series of Japan performances.
In some ways the end of the singer-songwriter phenomenon has been welcome, since it was always an artificial construct applied only to women, who tend less toward the sort of "bonding" thing that leads so many guys to form bands. Now we can go back to calling singers who happen to play and write simply “singers,” or if need be “artists,” be they male or female.

Loeb's third release comes after a quiescent period in which not much has been heard from her since her 1997 album, Firecracker. Loeb had originally shot to fame in 1994 when her friend, actor Ethan Hawke, convinced the producers of the movie Reality Bites to use her song "Stay (I Missed You)" as its theme.
The song became an instant US number one, leading to a reported million-dollar offer from Geffen Records and her major debut, Tails. That effort produced another hit, the Top 20 single "Do You Sleep?" in 1995, and brought Loeb to the fore of the rapidly developing singer-songwriter boom.
But despite the tendency of critics to lump her in with the mainly acoustic artists of the singer-songwriter phenomenon, Loeb in fact cited rock influences from Jimi Hendrix to post-punkers Fugazi. These harder tendencies were borne out by a listen to Tails, which included tougher tracks such as "Alone" and "It's Over."
Dallas-born Loeb launched her career in the early '90s, when she became a fixture of New York's downtown scene with her band Nine Stories.
Firecracker was recorded with bassist Joe Quigley from Nine Stories, and new additions guitarist Mark Spencer and drummer Ronny Crawford. The album spawned the minor hit, "I Do."
Cake And Pie was released at the end of November on A&M Records.

Lisa Loeb plays Shibuya Kokkaido on Feb 3-4.
See listings for details.

Photo: Smash