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Girl rock

3 woman-fronted bands find inspiration in guitar riffs and pounding bass lines

By Caitlin E. Curran, Globe Correspondent | January 19, 2007

Consider Led Zeppelin , and the women who love the band's music. Nearly 40 years after the British act overturned the world of rock with its debut album, it continues to inspire countless others. Proving that its guitar riffs and thundering bass lines aren't just for the manly, three up-and-coming woman-fronted bands -- Earl Greyhound , the Big Sleep, and the SnowLeopards -- have recently released debut albums inspired by Zeppelin and other classic rock acts, in very different ways.

"Part of what keeps us together is that we all love Led Zeppelin," says Big Sleep singer and bass player
Balchandani,

Where the Big Sleep has more ambient tendencies, fellow Brooklynites Earl Greyhound incorporate soul and glam - rock elements into their music. "We like to write rock 'n' roll with that old-time religious energy to it," said Kamara Thomas............
Locally, Jamaica Plain-based power-rock foursome the SnowLeopards is getting similar attention from fans and bloggers for its shows. The band, which includes lead singer Heidi Saperstein , guitarist Mike Oor , bassist Jimmy Jax , and drummer Jeff Harrington , began playing live last spring. It won best local song of the year at 2006's Boston Music Awards for its first single, "Stuck in the Middle ." By fall the band was recording tracks for its aptly named first album, "Debut ," which was mixed by local songsmith and L.E.O. lead singer William James McAuley III (a.k.a. Bleu ). The SnowLeopards play a CD-release party Jan. 27 at T.T. the Bear's Place.

When the band performed at T.T.'s in November , a group of dancing women flocked close to the stage, as though worshiping at an altar; it was clear that Saperstein, clad in jeans and a bikini top, was their rock goddess. She exudes stage presence.

"The SnowLeopards have impressed me from day one," says Dave Virr , host of WFNX's "New England Product ," a radio program centered on local music. "They hold up their end of the bargain live and have now delivered an impressive debut CD, thanks in part to Bleu."

Saperstein, Thomas, and Balchandani say they admire women rockers such as Joan Jett and Stevie Nicks ; confident and sincere, they bear more than a passing resemblance to these icons.

"I'm huge into classic rock," Saperstein says, adding that she peruses YouTube for live performances by the Who, Bad Company, and other influential rock pioneers, hoping to learn from them.

Is it a coincidence that these three women-fronted bands are all coming into their own right now? Thomas, for one, is confident that they are part of a trend. "There are so many females that are so fierce right now," she says. "Girls are picking up guitars, just rocking it, and making some really original music."


© Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
- The Boston Globe


Monday, March 05, 2007
The SnowLeopards: Debut

The SnowLeopards is the new band fronted by vocalist and rhythm guitarist Heidi Lee. I first heard her solo work years ago on Epitonic, when she was going by the name of Heidi Saperstein. Her moniker is not the only change. The catchy pop-rock of Debut is an upbeat and wonderfully noisy departure from the haunting acoustic-pop of her previous work. This is the kind of disc that needs to be played at high volumes with the curtains drawn so the neighbours can't see you thrashing around to it. The band is also composed of lead guitarist Mike Orr, drummer Jeff Harrington, and bass guitarist Jimmy Jax, who was once in a band with Anthony Rossomando of Dirty Pretty Things.

Songs like "FICU Now" and the standout track "Stuck in the Middle" are heavy with guitar, but uplifted by catchy pop melodies and Heidi's smooth vocals.

While other tracks hint at classic Pat Benetar or The Bangles with an occasional dash of Kristin Hersh or Queens of The Stone Age, the hard grind and banshee vocals definitely make "Hipmatize Me" the PJ Harvey song of the album. "Bad Fantasy" slows the pace and drops the guitars back enough to really showcase Heidi's pretty vocal range.

The darker "Mary" is my favourite track on the album with its driven guitars and thunderous drums reaching aphotic depths with vocals that alternate between eerie and melodic. And Heidi's voice sounds like a wicked hybrid of Cowboy Junkies' Margot Timmons and Garbage's Shirley Manson on the delicious "You're My Home".

"I'm on Fire (DooDoo)" is probably why The SnowLeopards are often likened to Led Zeppelin, though The Darkness may be a more appropriate comparison. This track in particular is a brilliant mix of pounding rock and echoing grandiose pop vocals.

"(Don't) Hide Away" kills the album with a softer, semi-acoustic sound that unleashes Heidi's voice.
- Muruch Music Blog


To get into T.T. the Bear’s Place, a well-known and respected music joint in Central Square, Cambridge, you present your ID, $10, a smile and in return you receive a half-indifferent smirk, a stubborn little bumblebee stamp on the top of your hand and access through a small doorway. Once you’re in, you’re confronted with hipsters, punk rockers, cowboys, testerone-amped frat boys, junkies, bums and businessmen. Who said Cambridge wasn’t diverse? And really it’s just a regular scene for Central, an area known as much for its eclectic crowds as it is for its ethnic food.
The bands on the bill for this evening, The Snowleopards and Damone, are two of the most well-known female-fronted rock bands in the Boston area. The raven-haired leading ladies, of varying degrees of fame, both represent the same thing — the epitome of a female rocker, who, while on stage, would spit in your face if you asked nicely. They sneer, they sweat and they’re sexy.
But offstage, the women are corky, shy and somewhat awkward. They’re natural-born performers, set free to be wild and desirable when they rock. And they both claim that it’s this love of performing — the stage — that makes them cool.
Maybe it helps that these women are backed by flashy all-male bands with thrashing guitars, pumping beats and catchy riffs. The men don’t cower behind the in-your-face ladies and use their stage time to often try to show up these goddesses, or praise them, whichever.
The opener, The Snowleopards, is a band with a buzz that has quickly transformed from swift whispers to shouts. Fronted by Heidi Lee Saperstein, and backed by her live-in boyfriend, lead guitarist Mike Orr, bassist Jimmy Jax and drummer Jeff Harrington, the band is a melting pot of hard-driven ‘70s and ‘80s pop rock, good for either a headbanging or a skip, and therein lies the appeal.
This year the quartet had three nominations in the Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll for Best Female Vocalist, Best New Act and Best Song. Its first single, “Stuck in the Middle,” which won Best Local Song at last year’s Boston Music Awards and was nominated for this year’s Phoenix poll, is infectious; Saperstein’s bold lyrics blend perfectly with simple, bouncy backing instruments — quick little strums, muddled vocals, popping beats.
“You were hot, I was cool, you never change the rules like I could…you went up, I came down, you never change the sound like I could,” she sings.
Earlier this year, the band released its first album, “Debut.” The second single off the disc, “Hipmatize me,” is their best material to date. Saperstein takes her vocals to a new level, enunciating every word with repressed, bursting-at-the-seams fury. For two minutes and 52 seconds, she transforms into a wild creature the moment before it pounces, just waiting to gnaw on an unsuspecting head — probably yours. Her pack backs her up with musky, cemetery-on-Halloween shrieks that send a cool chill up the spine. Seeing it live, in the dungeons of a local hole-in-the-wall, you can’t help but look over your shoulder.
Saperstein and Orr wrote the song while channeling Native American spirits — well, sort of.
“We were hanging around one night and oftentimes people at Mike’s work think he’s a Native American; he’s not. Someone that day had referred to him as ‘The Indian.’ We’re pretty silly, so I said, ‘Let’s make some music by the people.’ He started playing the riff to ‘Hipmatize.’ From there, I was inspired. The vocal style came out of me immediately. I was really loose at the moment. When I sing that song it’s kind of like I have fire underneath me…I feel hot, not necessarily sexy, but, well…yes, sexy.”
It’s hard for Saperstein to admit she’s sexy, as though she views her own sexiness as something of a mirage on stage — a hallucination within the vapors of a Native American sweat lodge. She is completely different when she performs, far more outrageous and sexier than when she’s offstage. Performing seems to be part aphrodisiac, part endorphin that also helps to ease the pain of some insecurities.
“When I was in my 20s… I used to have an eating disorder. It’s like having a mental illness, when you are consumed by this thing. Since I was in this state of mind, I didn’t have the ability to stick with things. Solo albums would come out and I would lose momentum and would not play shows,” Saperstein, now in her 30s, admits.
“In my everyday life I’m very to myself. I don’t work a job, I haven’t for a little while. I have two German shepherds and I spend my days at home with them, listening to music and doing band stuff. I wake up at 12:30 p.m. every day, stay up till 2 a.m. I’m a homebody. So then when I play shows, more and more, I have always had this belief that the stage is where I’m supposed to be. As a child, I loved to act and to dance. I have always loved to perform, and be creative and free. I have a little ADD. I have a problem staying focused in the world, that’s why I stay home. When it comes to m - Cover of the Arts section/North Shore Sunday


Boston music news: May 26, 2006
Notes on the Snowleopards

By: SARAH TOMLINSON

The Snowleopards

The SNOWLEOPARDS, featuring local singer-songwriter HEIDI SAPERSTEIN, celebrate the release of their new single “Stuck in the Middle” this Friday, May 26, at Sally O’Brien’s in Union Square (next to P.A.’s Lounge), opening for local singer-songwriter EMILY GROGAN. A long-time fixture in the band’s live set, the song was mixed by local power-pop songsmith BLEU and recorded at the band’s home studio; you can hear it at www.myspace.com/thesnowleopards, and they’ll be giving out free copies at their show. “It’s guitar-oriented pop, like a merge of the modern retro ’80s sound [with the synth-sounding e-bow guitar] and ’70s guitar pop like Fleetwood Mac,” says guitarist Mike Oor. The band, whose line-up also includes drummer Paul Trudeau and bassist Jim Zavadoski (ex–Damn Personals), will record their debut full-length at their home studio this summer; Bleu will produce two of the songs and mix the entire album. “The record will be very pop- and guitar-heavy,” says Oor. In the meantime, Saperstein will sing on Grogan’s upcoming album and perform with Bleu’s Get Up Choir at the Paradise on June 16. . . - The Boston Phoenix


DOWNLOAD: Snowleopards, "Stuck in the Middle" (mp3)

.... you can just download it here. You should. Because it's really, really good: plugging in and rocking out, they channel Fountains of Wayne’s new-wave pop and toss in a classic Fleetwood Mac-ish solo for good measure.

- The Boston Phoenix


"Indie is on the outs for The SnowLeopards"

by Selene Angier / Metro Boston

JAN 26, 2007
The SnowLeopards may have taken on a pop shine but that doesn’t mean they’re going soft.
Anchored by girlfriend/
boyfriend duo Heidi Saperstein and Mike Oor (ex-Runner and the Thermodynamics), the Boston group has eschewed any notions of “indier than thou” on their first record, “Debut.”
“Back in the day, I could’ve been the person that is like, ‘Indie rock only!’ and anything outside of that was like, ‘Ewww,’” says Saperstein over tea at the couple’s Jamaica Plain home. “Perhaps when I was younger, I was more self-conscious in creating music. Now we don’t think about it too much, we just go with it.”
After her first group Shiva Speedway (akin to Sleater-Kinney, she says) disbanded, Saperstein enjoyed a solo stint on Kimchee Records with a dark-brood brand of noise rock along the lines of Sonic Youth and PJ Harvey. But a few songwriting sessions with Oor, who played bass in the classic rock-bent Runner, led to a more melodic-pop wash sitting on the Snow-
Leopards rock foundation.
“I always wanted to make a record that sounded like a late ’70s record and I didn’t want to prove anything anymore,” adds Oor. “As much as I appreciated and enjoyed everything I did with Runner, the biggest lesson was learning not to settle and [not to] continue with something that doesn’t make you happy.”
While “Debut” is dotted with du-jour references like The Kills and The White Stripes, the immediate ear-punch is Heart and Pat Benatar. But Saperstein and Oor clarify their intentions are more classic-minded — Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin and Bad Company.
“I tend to listen to men-fronted bands. I wouldn’t say that I’m trying to sound like [Heart and Pat Benatar]. But I have a female voice so that’s what people are going to hear,” she says. “But it’s like goddamn I wish someone would compare me to a man!”
“Girls who rock, women who rock, mothers who rock. Would they ever have fathers who rock? Have you ever seen a guys-who-rock night?” she rightly inquires, before adding with a laugh: “If someone asks me to do [another] chick-singer night, I’ll have to take the gun out of the drawer.”
- The Boston Metro


SnowLeopards roar onto the scene

By Kerry Purcell/ Meet the band
Boston Herald Features Reporter
Thursday, January 25, 2007

Heidi Lee comes across like a contemporary version of the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde - and we’re not just talking about her outstanding hair. She commands an audience’s attention with every stroke of her guitar.
Lee’s band, the SnowLeopards, is a 1-year-old quartet from Jamaica Plain that won the 2006 BostonMusic Award for “Best Local Song” with its track “Stuck in the Middle.” Too bad local madcap Robby Roadsteamer pilfered the SnowLeopards’ trophy before they got it home. Then again, he did replace it with an award of his own intricate design. And he fussed over the band during his WBCN [website]-FM radio show with Hardy.
“They played ‘Stuck in the Middle’ at 6 p.m. and kept talking about us,” bassist Jimmy Jax said. “Heidi almost drove off the road.”
The SnowLeopards release their 11-track CD, “Debut” - their first, natch - tomorrow at T.T. the Bear’s Place. Rocker friends Bleu of L.E.O., and Alex Necochea of Bang Camaro will join in and amp up their hook-laced, Led Zeppelin-style rock tunes for this performance. And Emily Grogan, Sarah Korval of Okay Thursday and Jen Johnson of Static of the Gods will back Lee with Heart-esque harmonies.
“Back then (in the ’70s and ’80s) they made records with nine or 10 songs that all had radio potential,” Jax said. “Now it’s more the bang-for-your-buck thing. There are more songs on albums, but lots of filler.”
Lee wrote every tune on “Debut.” Then she recorded each one into a boombox so guitarist Mike Oor, her band mate - and mate - could add guitar when he returned home from his day job as a fire alarm repairman.
“I want to make our music timeless,” Oor said before he wiped a wisp of hair from his face and asked Lee to “help me out here.”
“I’m very influenced by classic rock,” Lee said.
The band, which won a Sonic Bids raffle for free recording time at Q Division Records in Somerville, will head to the studio soon.
The SnowLeopards are also working on a video for their song “Hipmatize Me.” Local film producer Mike Gill, who has created videos for the Bravery, Andrew WK,Damone and Piebald, will shoot it.
“He already has a concept,” Jax said. “Heidi’s gonna have a crystal ball and wizard powers and we’ll be swinging in a pendulum. Everyone will be inside of it.”
Much is going on, but it’s all fresh for the SnowLeopards.
“I still feel like a new band,” Lee said. “We’re still trying to figure out our performance style. But I want to be Led Zeppelin in my fantasy.”
- The Boston Herald


Sooooooo . . . we'll try this again. Last time we posted an unreleased Snowleopards song, the Boston Music Awards named it song of the year or something. We're back with another, and it's rock and fucking roll. We fed it into the Lester Bangsinator and here's what it said: "Heidi Saperstein sexes Zeppelin banshee wail up with the Stooges' troglodyte stomp until the juice runs down my leg." Riff, riff, riff, awesome turnaround, riff, riff, riff: simple, bludgeoning, as subtle as a heart attack. Seriously, this is better than the whole last White Stripes record. It's going to radio next week and it'll be on their next record, our early '07. Make sure you buy it. Also go see them at Bill's Bar on October 27. - The Phoenix


Friday, June 01, 2007

The SnowLeopards - Boston Band is Artist of the Week

I finally got around to ordering my copy of the SnowLeopards "Debut" album. In-between kicking myself for not doing it sooner, I have been REALLY enjoying the songs. The record is a 2007 release and a must have.

At the core of the band is Heidi Lee (vocals and guitars) and Mike Oor (lead guitars). Jimmy Jax (bass) and Jeff Harrington (drums) were added in this latest incarnation of the band and rock out hard on the album. I suppose what I like best about the SnowLeopards (besides that they are from Boston and that they technically very good) is that there's grittiness to their songs that I suppose I did not expect. This album is a celebration in guitar and in the fuzz sound. The album was produced and mixed in part by Bleu, who also lent a hand with guitars, keyboards and percussion. This one is a winner and I am a fan!
- ryansmashinglife.com


They'll 'hipmatize' you

Boston-based band the Snowleopards put out fierce, unpretentious rock.
By Caitlin E. Curran, Boston.com Staff | December 22, 2006

On a recent evening, in an unassuming house in Jamaica Plain, four musicians and two visitors crammed into a back room, with two dogs whimpering enviously nearby. The room’s crimson walls were lined with a gold-framed Mona Lisa print and a Guns N Roses poster. A black leather couch was perched atop layers of Oriental carpeting, and electric guitars were strewn about. Suddenly, two amplifiers boomed to life and scratching guitar chords filled the air, as a woman with a halo of brown curls leaned into a microphone and crooned, “I know what you like / I know what you feel.”
The rock goddess was Heidi Saperstein, 34, lead singer of Boston-based band the Snowleopards, which also includes guitarist Mike Oor, 32, bassist Jimmy Jax, 33, and drummer Jeff Harrington, 34. Their music is a fierce, unpretentious throwback to rock pioneers like The Who and Joan Jett, infused with radio-friendly power-pop. They’ve only just completed their aptly named first album, “Debut, and already the band has generated enough buzz via shows and local bloggers to earn “Best Local Song of the Year” title at this year’s Boston Music Awards, for their first single, “Stuck in the Middle,” released last May. "Debut’s" official, well, debut is on Dec. 31, when the Snowleopards will play a show at the Middle East with the much-hyped metal heads Bang Camaro.
“Debut” is an album that could make the Snowleopards Boston’s response to the recent onslaught of female-fronted classic rock outfits: The Long Blondes, from the UK, and Earl Greyhound and the Big Sleep, both from New York City. Their songs always include a decidedly Led Zeppelin-esque bridge. “Stuck in the Middle” is one of those pop songs that most bands wish they could write – guitar-heavy, with an instantly infectious melody and youthful, defiant lyrics. “You were hot / I was cool / You never changed the rules like I could,” Saperstein sings throatily. “Don’t Hide Away,” is a forlorn ballad with a bass line reminiscent of “All of My Love.” “Hipmatize Me,” the Snowleopards’ other single, is an assault of snarling guitar riffs, stomping bass lines, and eerie, screeching background vocals. “You’re gonna hipmatize me,” sneers Saperstein, but the song and her stage presence indicate the opposite – she will “hipmatize” you.
Saperstein, who grew up in Maine and attended Boston University, and Oor, who is a fire alarm technician, formed the Snowleopards as a duo in September of 2005. Saperstein had released solo albums on local label Kimchee Records, Oor had played in other Boston bands, and the two had been dating for over a year – a musical collaboration was the next logical step. Several musicians filled in on the drums and bass before Jeff Harrington and Jimmy Jax, friends of Saperstein and Oor through Boston’s intermingled local music scene, became official band members last summer and in October, respectively.
The foursome began playing live shows together last spring, and by the fall they were recording tracks for “Debut.” They also recruited local songsmith and L.E.O. lead singer William James McAuley III (aka Bleu) to mix the album.
When the band performed “Hipmatize Me,” at T.T. the Bears last month, a group of dancing women flocked close to the stage, and Saperstein, clad in jeans and a gold bikini top, was clearly their leader. She exudes stage presence, whether onstage at one of Boston’s many music venues, or practicing at home on an otherwise quiet Tuesday evening. (Her neighbors abandoned their imposed 8 p.m. practice cut-off time, Harrington says, because “we stopped sucking.”) At a Neil Young tribute show in Brighton earlier this month she was the only female performer among the many male musicians onstage. The chatty crowd in the packed back room at Castlebar swilled bottles of Miller High Life and shouted requests during most of the songs, but became silent during her heartfelt rendition of “Needle and the Damage Done.”
And that’s exactly her point. Saperstein intentionally perfects her powerful, rock-star persona. “I’m huge into classic rock,” she says, admitting that she peruses You Tube for live performances by The Who, Bad Company, and other influential rock icons to watch and learn from. Oor, Jax, and Harrington all site classic-rock influences as well. When quizzed, they list Cheap Trick, John Lennon, and Fleetwood Mac among their favorites.
On their MySpace page the Snowleopards say their music is “going backwards to go forwards.” If “Debut” is any indication, they’re headed in the right direction.
Contact Caitlin E. Curran at ccurran@boston.com.
- boston.com (The Globe online)


Discography

Debut out January 2007!

Charted on the CMJ top 200 (for 6 weeks)
Featured on NPR's Open Mic
Airplay on KCRW by Nic Harcourt!

Single "Stuck in the Middle" released May 2006
Nominated for "Local Song of The Year" by the Boston Music Awards and WON!!!
produced by Mike & Heidi
mixed by Bleu

2nd single "Hipmatize Me" from 'Debut'
produced by Bleu and the SnowLeopards

The Phoenix said this about "Hipmatize Me"
"Sooooooo . . . we'll try this again. Last time we posted an unreleased Snowleopards song, the Boston Music Awards named it song of the year or something. We're back with another, and it's rock and fucking roll. We fed it into the Lester Bangsinator and here's what it said: "Heidi Saperstein sexes Zeppelin banshee wail up with the Stooges' troglodyte stomp until the juice runs down my leg." Riff, riff, riff, awesome turnaround, riff, riff, riff: simple, bludgeoning, as subtle as a heart attack. Seriously, this is better than the whole last White Stripes record. It's going to radio next week and it'll be on their next record, out early '07. Make sure you buy it

***NEW SINGLE*** 'The Music' out in February 08

Photos

Bio

They'll 'hipmatize' you
Boston based foursome the SnowLeopards are getting some attention from crowds and bloggers for their live shows.
They put out fierce, unpretentious rock, infused with radio-friendly power-pop. Their single "Stuck in the Middle" won "Best Local Song" at the 2006 Boston Music Awards, and their aptly named first album “Debut,” was released in January 2007.

Hearkening to the golden days of ‘70s & ‘80s FM Rock (Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Joan Jett), The SnowLeopards strive to make radio ready hits with memorable choruses and guitar solos that you can sing along to.

CURRENTLY NOMINATED in...
The 2007 Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll

Best Female Vocalist..HEIDI SAPERSTEIN/THE SNOWLEOPARDS
New Act..THE SNOWLEOPARDS
Song..'STUCK IN THE MIDDLE'/ THE SNOWLEOPARDS

"The SnowLeopards have impressed me from day one," says Dave Duncan , host of WFNX's New England Product. "They hold up their end of the bargain live and have now delivered an impressive debut CD, thanks in part to Bleu." -DAVE DUNCAN of WFNX 101.7

“Heidi Lee comes across like a contemporary version of the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde - and we’re not just talking about her outstanding hair. She commands an audience’s attention with every stroke of her guitar. “ -THE BOSTON HERALD

"Another fantastic find from Exploit Boston Radio: The SnowLeopards claim to be influenced by a mix of motown and guitar-rock. We don't believe them at all. They surely stole it. Expanding from their duo roots to a full four piece set the group has been hard at work on their live sets. You'll want to tell all your friends you saw them first in the small venue." -THE BOSTONIST

etc: Mike Oor was in a band called Runner & the Thermodynamics (Ace Fu) and Jimmy Jax used to play in a band called the Damn Personals (also featured Anthony Rossomando now in the Dirty Pretty Things) Heidi once recorded for Kimchee Records...