Cannonball Jane
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Cannonball Jane

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


March 14 - 21, 2005

Best Old-School Rock Club Scene

THE DELANCEY BAR AND NIGHTCLUB


It may not be Max’s Kansas City on the East River, but it’s headed there. Some of the best young rock bands in the country have played this three-level rock club since it opened last year. Local glam-rockers Diamond Nights grabbed the attention of A&R reps; one-woman New York punk-funk project Cannonball Jane lived up to the hype; upstart punk bands Stiffed and the Exit played a raucous tribute to reggae-punkers Bad Brains. Add celebs like Kate Moss, Quentin Tarantino, and the Cure’s Robert Smith to the hungry crowd of bands and D.J.’s that squeezes into the club’s tight confines, and you have a bona fide budding scene.
- New York Magazine


Opening for headliner Le Tigre and the somewhat appropriately named Lesbians on Ecstasy was Cannonball Jane, a New Haven resident whose accompanying guitar player owned the evening's only Y chromosome. Singing over sampled beats and punk-rock chords, Jane recalled both Ronnie Spector and Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, going grinningly retro with no specific era attached.

...Kathleen Hanna was perky and energetic, dancing across the stage hipster-cheerleader-style, much as Cannonball Jane had done an hour earlier.

March 4, 2005 - CTnow.com



There's an extent to which this is going to be at least as much a declaration of love as a review, because there are a couple of things about Cannonball Jane that really turn me on: The charming and polished 4-track simplicity of the recording and Jane's (AKA Sharon Hagopian) gifts.

Street Vernacular is most successful when Jane/Sharon is creating musical environments to give her songs a home, her constructs of material sounding like someone who's been left alone in the musical museum overnight. And I mean that as a good thing. Her best songs, "Slumber Party" and "Fine Reminder," have an enchanting quality that sounds like butterflies flying in formation. (Don't tell me that wouldn't make any sound, this is exactly what it would sound like.) ...

- Ink 19


....Ok, being selfish, I've saved the best for last. Of the 13 songs on Yellow Orange Pink Blue Baby!, the real standouts are "Add a Wrap" by Cannonball Jane and "Pleasure" by Weak. I have put both of these songs on mixes for my friends, and everyone raves about them. Cannonball Jane is unsigned at the moment, and I truly hope that doesn't last long. "Add a Wrap" is just a fantastic song. The description of her music is "electro-indiepopklash," but I'll be honest, I don't know what that means. What I do know is that the low tempo techno beat coupled with Sharon Hagopian's smooth vocals make this one of my favorite songs right now....

- Excellent Online


In a world that's rapidly running out of new musical combinations, I can honestly say I've never heard this one before: early Eighties hip-hop crossed with girl-group pop. Sharon Hagopian records as Cannonball Jane when she's not teaching elementary school music classes, and her debut is ten tracks of music history fantasy camp. What if The Shangri-Las dated Run-DMC? What if Sarah Records' early Nineties roster became obsessed with the dirty funk of the SP-1200? It takes Cannonball Jane a mere twenty-nine minutes to convince you of how cool that would actually be. Cheap-o beats and Spectorian production flourishes provide the backdrop, but the glue that holds it together is Hagopian's surprisingly lovely voice, either solo or ethereally multi-tracked. Despite a limited range, she adeptly performs in a variety of guises, from the punky go-go girl of "Hey! Hey! Alright!" to the 4AD balladeer of "The Force of Gravity". Maybe it's time to start believing in genre crossing again! - Splendid Zine


Sharon Hagopian, the musician behind the Cannonball Jane identity, takes a route for her solo project that few other like-minded musicians have tread. Instead of focusing on her voice - which is quite nice and fits perfectly in her chosen course - and guitar as some singer/songwriters choose, she has created an album of upbeat, danceable electro-pop. And she's performed every instrument on it herself, composing all the beats, samples, and synths, adding her voice overtop to finish it off.

"Hey! Hey! Alright!" is suitably named, as this fast-paced song has that repeated chorus throughout. "Taxi" reminds me of Luscious Jackson, with its bigger beats and samples and funky vocal style. "Brave New World" is perhaps the album's most aggressive song. With edgy guitars and up-tempo beats, it sounds more like a mid-90s rock song, especially in its shouted chorus. Along those same lines, "Let's Go!" is a great rock song, certainly the one with the best chorus and the most guitars. This is the song I find myself singing long after the album is over.

While much of the album is focused on the lively, upbeat songs, I find the slower, more experimental songs more intriguing. The album starts with the slick and sweet "Slumber Party," riding light beats and some playful samples. "Such is the Score" has a kind of groove to it, and Hagopian's voice goes from an almost-rapped chorus to singing sweetly, with the vocals layered. And there's even an almost trip-hop feel to "Add a Wrap." My favorite is the surprisingly playful "Automatic Knockout," a sweet song that rides a repetitive flute loop and the sound of hand claps.

What may be missed on this album is the production values. It says a lot that Hagopian was able to combine these sounds so effortlessly and mix her vocals perfectly. It definitely sounds like a band, not a single musician, and in that the production values - while suitably lo-fi in parts - shine. And Hagopian's voice is perfect, sweet at times, edgy at others, and always supporting these short but catchy songs. At not quite 30 minutes, this is a fun album to say the least.

- Delusions of Adequacy


Sharon Hagopian, a quiet and reserved elementary school music teacher, has an alter ego, Cannonball Jane. When she's not teaching the younger set about quarter notes and treble clefs, she's making music that's a wonderful hybrid of 60s harmonies and modern-day electronica. Comparisons have been made to Solex and Julie Ruin, and while those are certainly apt, I'd like to think that she's much more of an electronica-version of Aislers Set--you know, punk rock noise met with indiepop sensibility and classic pop stylings thrown in to boot. Hell, it would be a great crime if Hagopian and Linton never collaborated.

"Deceptively simple" is the best phrase to describe the music of Street Vernacular. While you would be easily tempted to think that this was just another case of a kid with a computer making electronic music in their bedroom, you'd be wrong. Terribly wrong. Hagopian assures us that no computers were used in the making of this record, and if you can't tell that she's telling the truth, then you're either jaded or...well...stupid. That's not a nice word, and we apologize for using such an insulting word, but it's true. Of course, when the musician in question is a music teacher, why would you think that she'd be incapable of making such a wonderful record on her own?

Hagopian was wise to keep Street Vernacular short. It clocks in at less than thirty minutes; normally, that's a pathetic amount of time for a 'full-length' album, but she obviously knows that brevity is the soul of wit. Plus, she perhaps realized that her songs--which do go all over the place, yet stick to a basic formula--are best enjoyed in small samples. Electronic musicians often don't realize that it's better to say something in a short amount of time than to utilize every ounce of time you've got, especially if your style is very basic and not terribly complicated. It's better to produce an album that's excellent yet too short than to produce an album that's tedious after twenty minutes but still a half-hour away from finishing. Hagopian obviously understands that it's best to leave them wanting more, and Street Vernacular is a musical peanut-butter cracker on an empty stomach.

Kicking off Street Vernacular is "Slumber Party," with a piano riff that's very much a mid-60s creation. Of course, she modernizes everything with an electro-beat that is quite similar to her self-referenced influence Solex. Hagopian then turns the beat around with "Hey! Hey! Alright!," a song that Le Tigre could take a few lessons from. The chug-chug beat is complemented with a riff that borrows heavily from..."Freeze Frame?" Yes, that's it! My favorite mixing of styles has to be "Brave New World," where she deftly makes a medley of Mozart and Missing Persons!

See, that's the magic of Cannonball Jane's debut. You can listen to it, and you'll find something new each time, and you'll love it even more. I've listened to Street Vernacular almost every day for the past month. It's that wonderful; it's totally fun, and it's quite smart, too. I mean, what can you say about an artist who makes a melody of Mozart and Missing Persons ("Brave New World")? She pulls it off with grace, and if there's any artist that makes me excited about their future, it's her. Big things for the schoolteacher who can? I sure hope so! Not only am I excited at the prospect of her next record, I'm secretly wondering what kind of influence she has on her students. If Street Vernacular is any indication, then the future of music is secure and safe...
- Mundane Sounds


Wow Wow WOW! I have to say, this is one of my favorite CDs right now. It's just utterly amazing. So, so good!

Cannonball Jane is the one-woman music project of Sharon Hagopian, an elementary school music teacher by day. She plays every darn instrument on these songs herself (including guitar, keyboards, bass, drums), and incorporates cool samples to create this awesome lo-fi electropop sound. It's sorta akin to Solex but with a stronger 60's retro feel to it, reminding me of Adventures in Stereo or Saint Etienne. In fact, Sharon even sounds like Saint Etienne's vocalist Sarah Cracknell --- such a lovely, smooth smoky girlish voice! And then some songs are more funky in a Luscious Jackson kinda way. So diverse and fun!

The first track, "Slumber Party", opens with a breezy cool Carole-King-esque piano riff before the synthesizer dance beats kick in. Very jazzy and suave. "Hey! Hey! Alright!" is just as fun a punk-pop song as you might imagine it to be with all those exclamation marks in the title. ;) "Taxi" has a totally funky urban hip-hop feel to it. And the cool thing about Cannonball Jane is that she totally nails each different style of music she tackles.

The only song that I'm not 100% crazy about is "Brave New World" --- it's got a rockin' beat and slyly references Mozart (!!!), but there's a weird sonic noise going on in the background that sounds like police sirens and it totally unsettles me. (Mike, with his keen ears and extensive retro 80's knowledge, pointed out that the sound is actually sampled from a Pac-Man game! Mozart and Pac-Man! How cool is that? But it still sounds like sirens to me...*shudder*)

My favorite song of all though is the dreamy closer "The Force of Gravity" --- it's just so gorgeous and wistful and lovely. So so good!

And if I may rave about this CD for just a little bit longer, I also wanted to point out that Sharon also recorded and produced this whole darn thing herself! And while she may have done it on a four-track recorder in her home, it truly sounds like it was done in a fancy studio. The production sounds so, so sophisticated!

Can you guys tell how impressed I am with Cannonball Jane?! Seriously, go go go and buy this CD from her now! - Copacetic Zine


Cannonball Jane's song, "Hey! Hey! Alright!" included in the Guest DJ section. - The MOJO Playlist


Opening acts Cannonball Jane and Gravy Train also showed their appreciation for Le Tigre's kid rock. Accompanied by only a guitarist, Cannonball's Sharon Hagopian — who is, fittingly, an elementary school teacher by day — got the then half-packed crowd bopping their heads to her palette of jungle and hip-hop beats, juxtaposed with her surprisingly smooth, '70s singer-songwriter delivery. Chartattack Oct. 27, 2004 - Chart Attack


Discography

Street Vernacular LP/CD (Enhanced) on Fortuna POP!
Street Vernacular LP/CD on 555 Recordings
555CD55 Compilation on 555 Recordings
Yellow, Orange, Pink, Blue Baby Compilation on
mundanesounds.com

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

"Cannonball Jane, aka Sharon Hagopian, is an elementary school music teacher by day, an electro-punk-pop darling by evening". Her debut album, "Street Vernacular" was written, performed, recorded and mixed by Cannonball Jane in her home and released last year on 555 records.

"It's just amazing. Stuff like that I really like!" - Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill, Le Tigre)

So much in fact that the grrrls of Le Tigre asked Cannonball Jane to open for them on the beginning of their fall tour and more recently on some of their East Coast dates. Cannonball Jane has also shared the stage with Bonfire Madigan, Gravy Train!!!!, ESG, Lesbians on Ecstasy, Brasilia, Gaijin A Go Go, Les Sans Culottes and My Favorite. She will be re-releasing the record this Winter in Europe on the Fortuna POP! label.

"There's an extent to which this is going to be at least as much a declaration of love as a review, because there are a couple of things about Cannonball Jane that really turn me on: The charming and polished 4-track simplicity of the recording and Cannonball Jane's gifts." - Ink 19

"Wow wow wow! I have to say, this is one of my favorite CDs right now. It's just utterly amazing!" - Copacetic Zine

"...one-woman New York punk-funk project Cannonball Jane lived up to the hype..."
New York Magazine (live review)

"...you know, punk rock noise met with indiepop sensibility and classic pop stylings thrown in to boot. I swear, I've listened to her debut album almost every day after I received it. It's that wonderful; it's totally fun, and it's quite smart too. - Mundane Sounds

" In a world that's rapidly running out of new musical combinations, i can honestly say i've never heard this one before: early Eighties hip-hop crossed with girl-group pop.....her debut is ten tracks of music history fantasy camp." - Splendid Zine

"It says a lot that Hagopian was able to combine these sounds so effortlessly and mix her vocals perfectly. It definately sounds like a band, not a single musician, and in that the production values-while suitably lo-fi in parts - shine. And Hagopian's voice is perfect, sweet at times, edgy at others, and always supporting these short but catchy songs." - Delusions of Adequacy