Scrawl circa 1996 in England.
photo by Andy Willsher
From the pages of the CMJ New Music Report, Issue: 267 - Jan 17, 1992
It's little things like a label dropping
you and then going belly-up that separate the women from the girls,
and Scrawl resurge a year and a half after Smallmouth, not only undaunted,
but more forcefully conveying ragged defiance and freedom from day-job
doldrums. Scrawl's strength has always been translating untidy emotions
and normal-person thoughts to a sturdy, chunking cluster of guitar and
rhythm, and the six songs here (we're not counting the cover of "Cold
Hearted Snake") steam ahead with renewed focus, suggesting movement
and liberation rather than tugging wastefully in all directions. Scrawl's
thing has never really been for riffs or vocal hooks, but on "VI Ploriontos"
and "Love's Insecticide," Marcy and Sue's voices and the guitar challenge
and rise together with conviction, prodding together to an apex of ringing
accusation while the bass carries on with tugboat sturdiness. "Clock
Song" is an impetus-gathering call to action and timely departure, while
"Please Have Everything" is a hangdog, spoon-stirring sigh of a goodbye
ballad, and they even take Cheap Trick's "High Roller" for a joyride.
All three musicians sound as though they've been practicing and honing
these declarations to rapier accuracy for some time, stating their impatience
with indie label bureaucracy on the record cover and expressing that
urgency in the music.
From Sonic Net
According to the liner notes, the cover
drawing which lends Bloodsucker its title is "an artist's rendering;
any resemblance to music industry executives is purely coincidental."
Recorded in the wake of the bankruptcy of Scrawl's previous label Rough
Trade, this seven-track EP is clearly informed by the group's troubled
experiences in the music business; independently financed and self-released,
Bloodsucker is bitter, pessimistic and grim, yet also fiery and passionate
-- the work of a band quite possibly breathing its last, but refusing
to go down without a fight. Marcy Mays' songs are her most potent to
date, highlighted by the bracing "Clock Song;" rounding out the set
are covers of Cheap Trick's "High Roller" and Paula Abdul's "Cold Hearted
~ Jason Ankeny, All-Music Guide
Velvet Hammer CD
From the pages of the CMJ New Music Report, Issue: 359 - Nov 29, 1993
Before it was so trendy to talk about inspiring
female musicians-before foxcore and riot grrrls-three unassuming women
from Columbus, Ohio, were writing and recording an emotionally turbulent,
lyrically astute, overtly female body of songs. Three albums on Rough
Trade and an EP on Feel Good All Over revealed the band's rugged song
structures, empowered by the tension-filled dialectic rippling between
the voices of songwriters Marcy Mays and Sue Harshe. For Scrawl, 1993
has been a year of great, though certainly not detrimental, change.
Original drummer Carolyn O'Leary was replaced by Dana Marshall, Scrawl's
first male band member, and Simple Machines has adopted the the trio's
cause, reissuing 1991`s Bloodsucker EP and taking on the band's fourth
album, Velvet Hammer. The new album's somewhat heavier, tighter sound
and increased attention to subtleties may be a result of years of touring
or of Steve Albini's astute recording, while the heightened sensitivity
of the lyrics, which tackle frustration, depression and dependency,
may be the result of maturity and increased insight. But the essential
element remains: Scrawl's songs strike an important nerve in the human
psyche, as on "Your Mother Wants To Know," "Prize," and "Remember That
Day." And while you're at it, check out Mays' gripping vocals on "My
Curse" off the Afghan Whigs' new album Gentlemen.
Good Under Pressure 7"
From the pages of the CMJ New Music Report, Issue: 435 - Jul 10, 1995
Scrawl's first release in over a year houses
two emotionally-charged rockers that'll have the hairs on the back of
your neck standing on end. "Good Under Pressure" deftly alternates between
dense, noisy parts and sparse, quiet parts, making the final build-up
all the more intense. On the flipside things only get darker, with martial
drum beats leading off the anger-driven "Chaos," ignited by the tension-filled
vocal interplay between Marcy Mays and Sue Harshe.