Matilda Effect

by The Corner Laughers

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about

"If you drop breadcrumbs while you're off adventuring you'll lose your way in darkness, so we've heard. We learn about their failures across the centuries but at least they got to feed some hungry birds."

So declare the opening lines of "Matilda Effect," the new record by California's The Corner Laughers. The wry spirit of adventure contained within those words flows throughout the latest release from the band called "a nigh-on-perfect fusion of bubblegum-sweet tunefulness and clever, subtly barbed lyrics" (Icon Magazine.)

Yes, lead singer/songwriter Karla Kane wears cat-eye glasses, plays ukulele and goes birdwatching, but The Corner Laughers are no stereotype hipster-twee band. Kane's literate lyrics and "ridiculously catchy" melodies (Word Magazine) are backed up by the powerhouse combination of virtuoso guitarist KC Bowman and rhythm ninjas Khoi Huynh and Charlie Crabtree on bass and drums. And FYI, that ukulele is electric. An intriguing mixture of bookish and badass, together they create "rousing, visionary adult pop" (Tom Robinson's Fresh on the Net).

"Matilda Effect," named for the phenomenon of female scientists being overlooked in favor of their male colleagues, marks another step forward for the group, whose last release was the critically adored "Poppy Seeds" (2012). Cosmic-pop wizard Allen Clapp (The Orange Peels) produced the record, first from his midcentury-modern Silicon Valley studio, then from his woodland lair in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Laughers took their time with "Matilda Effect," not only due to the change in studio locale but also because of some pretty major life evolutions. Three band members all became first-time parents in 2013.

These developments shine through in the songwriting, as Kane reflects with joy, fear, and wonder on her new daughter and identity as a mother. In fact, the record is full of feminine presence, not only drawn from personal experience but in an epic cast of characters including Cleopatra, Alice in Wonderland, astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, and Martha, the world's last passenger pigeon. As always, literature, history, and the natural world prove influential. And while their previous record was California-centric, the new work takes a decidedly more worldly tone, with much inspiration coming from recent tours and trips to England, Berlin, and Scandinavia.

The record contains all the hooks and harmonies essential to The Corner Laughers' sound and, while most definitely a pop lover's pop album, explores some psych, folk, and even almost-reggae territory. Wistful and dreamy at times, sly and sassy at others, "Matilda Effect" wanders through enchanted forests and stone circles, meadows and the Milky Way. It showcases the talents of the tight-knit foursome, plus a few notable guests, including Anton Barbeau (who also penned a track) and one purring Persian cat.

The Corner Laughers have received international airplay on radio, television, and in retail stores, and performed with Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), Mike Viola (Candy Butchers), Wesley Stace (John Wesley Harding), Fiona Bevan, Sophie Madeleine, Martin Newell, and many others.

Fans of Belle and Sebastian, Kirsty MacColl, Allo Darlin', and XTC -- or anyone who craves music shimmering with smarts and heart -- rejoice. The Corner Laughers are ready to receive you.

credits

released 12 June 2015

Karla Kane: Vocals, Ukulele, Percussion
Khoi Huynh: Bass, Backing Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
KC Bowman: Guitar, Backing Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
Charlie Crabtree: Drums

Allen Clapp: Keyboards, Tambourine
Anton Barbeau: Backing Vocals, Keyboards
Astrid Smith – Violin
Octavia Kane – Backing Vocals, Bells
Sun Bear – Percussion
Wazu – Purring

All songs by Karla Kane (BMI) except “Go Fly Your Kite” (Bowman/Crabtree/Huynh/Kane), “Martha…” (Huynh), and “The Girl, America” (Anton Barbeau/Untitled Music ASCAP)

Produced by Allen Clapp and The Corner Laughers

Recorded at: Mystery Lawn (Boulder Creek and Sunnyvale), Australorp Audio (Redwood City), Timber Trout (Oakland), Rathaus (Berlin)

Mastered By Myles Boisen, Headless Buddha Mastering Lab

Art design by Allen Clapp, Anna Saccheri, & The Corner Laughers
Photo by Ray Lin

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The Corner Laughers Redwood City, California

Clever wordplay, magical melodies and heartbreaking harmonies. Front and center are heavenly vocals, jangly guitars, delicate ukes, a thunderous rhythm section and crystalline production.

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Track Name: Fairytale Tourist
If you drop breadcrumbs while you’re off adventuring you’ll lose your way in darkness, so we’re heard
We learn about their failures across the centuries but at least they got to feed some hungry birds

You can say that I’ve been clever or you can say that I’m a fool
But you know that I would never forget the lessons learned in nursery school

Let’s go out all dressed up fancy, make believe and take a chance on city lights (ba ba ba ba)
Wander out into the forest like some Grimm’s fairytale tourist, see the sights
Let me know or let me go.

Last night I dreamed that I was Cleopatra bound for Julius Caesar, wrapped up in a rug
When I awoke it wasn’t Alexandria, just cats and blankets tucked around me snug

And you can treat me like a peasant or you can treat me like a queen
But all that matters in the present is recognizing what I’ve never been

Let’s go out all dressed up fancy, make believe and take a chance on city lights (ba ba ba ba)
Wander out into the forest like some Grimm’s fairytale tourist, see the sights
Let me know or let me go.

And if I said that I was lonely or if I said I’m still afraid
You would know that it was only me making lemons out of lemonade

Let’s go out all dressed up fancy, make believe and take a chance on city lights (ba ba ba ba)
Wander out into the forest like some Grimm’s fairytale tourist, see the sights
Let me know or let me go.
Track Name: Octavia A
Hey, Octavia A, she’s saving the day, she’s saving the day
Scandinavians say, “hej hej”
In Italian, “via” means “way”
Make way for Octavia A
La la la la la la la la …

She is a secret, never tell
She’s water in a wishing well
The pomegranate and the bell
Look at that Alice through the glass
She has no malice, only sass
She’s never callous, never crass

And if you stand her in the sunlight, she grows
And if you move her to the moonlight, she glows

Hey, Octavia A, she’s saving the day, she’s saving the day
Scandinavians say, “hej hej”
In Italian, “via” means “way”
Make way for Octavia A
La la la la la la la la …

I hope she never hates her hair
I hope her feet are often bare
I hope she fares well at the fairs
I hope she always wants to read
I hope she has all that she needs
I hope she’s always planting seeds

And if you stand her in the sunlight, she grows
And if you move her to the moonlight, she glows

Hey, Octavia A, she’s saving the day, she’s saving the day
Scandinavians say, “hej hej”
In Italian, “via” means “way”
Make way for Octavia A
La la la la la la la la …
Track Name: Queen Of The Meadow
Henrietta Leavitt never got the credit for measuring the stars
Luminous and varied, numerous and buried treasure reservoir

The farther the candle the fainter the flame
The farther the scandal the fainter the name

I’m working like a milk maid, burning like a campfire
Trying to get the bills paid for my little vampire

I saw the sun rise on Thanksgiving morning
I saw the night turn to day without warning
And I’ve never been so afraid of the whole new world that we made

You’re working on the spiral trying to keep the rooms clean
Vanquishing the viral, wondering what the runes mean

We thought we knew but now we know
We thought we flew but now we flow

I’m working like a night nurse, trying to get the most out
Making all the fights worse for a little ghost mouth

And if you crown me the queen of the meadow
I’ll wear a gown made of leaves from the hedgerow
And I’ve never been so surprised by the whole new world we devised

Never a rainbow, barely a mouse
Never complain, don’t turn back and grouse

You’re working like a pool boy, passing out the beach towels
Trying to get the cool toys for your little screech owl

And when you crown me the queen of the meadow
I’ll wear a gown made of leaves from the hedgerow
And I’ve never been so elated by the whole new world we created

Henrietta Leavitt never got the credit for measuring the stars
Track Name: Sophie In The Streets Of Stockholm
Sophie in the streets of Stockholm, what’s she thinking?
Sophie in the streets of Stockholm, all alone
Staring up at the sky, eyes never blinking
Waiting for someone like me to take her home

And when they realize they’ve left her there, will they return and find her gone?
Or will they move along without a care as you and I, we travel on?

Sophie in the streets of Stockholm’s had her outings
(She’s moving on, she’s settled in)
Sophie in the streets of Stockholm’s had her fun
(She’s in a bathtub in Berlin)
As the people pass her, petulant and pouting
She’s already turned her face up to the sun

Her presence never fails to brighten us
We’re never sure what has occurred
And honestly, she sometimes frightens us
She has a way of being heard

Sophie in the streets of Stockholm
What are you waiting for?
Who are you waiting for?
Track Name: Midsommar
Ley lines and their traces formed a map of ancient places where we walked together from Jerusalem to Rome.
The puddles formed a mini-Nile, turned inches into many miles. Followed in your footsteps from the train station to home.

And I could see us on Midsummer's Day in circles heralded by stones.
And I could cast us in a mummer's play and we would never feel alone.

You and I are stained-glass windows, not surprised the way that wind blows.

And out among the megaliths I wish that we could stay like this.
We spun together under orbs of stormy stars.
The lights of Swindon overheard, the fields of clover for our bed.
Followed in the drumbeats of those druids in the yard.

And I could see us on Midsummer's Day in circles heralded by stones.
And I could cast us in a mummer's play and we would never feel alone.

You and I are stained-glass windows, not surprised the way that wind blows.
Track Name: Lammas Land
Rain, rain falling on the rooftop
I can’t sleep so I just listen, listen
Rain, rain falling on the rooftop
I can’t sleep
I hear the sound of the water coming down and the autumn all around
Listen, listen
Rain, rain falling on the rooftop
You’re asleep so I just listen, listen
Rain, rain falling on the rooftop
You’re asleep
I heard the sound of your breathing, up and down
Envy the peace that you have found
Listen, listen

It’s bad luck to sing in bed, that’s what my Nonna always said
So I keep the words inside my head
And count some sheep but I can’t sleep and rain falls on the rooftop
Listen

Rain, rain falling on the rooftop
I can’t sleep so I just listen, listen
Rain, rain falling on the rooftop
I can’t sleep
I hear the sound of the water as it falls from St. Mary’s at The Walls
Listen, listen

It’s bad luck to sing in bed, that’s what my Nonna always said
So I keep the words inside my head
And count some sheep but I can’t sleep and rain falls on the rooftop
Listen

Rain, rain falling on the rooftop
I can’t sleep so I just listen, listen
Track Name: Go Fly Your Kite
Hey kids, do you want us to be your friends and tell you lies (yeah-eh)?
Your thinking is right: We're a rocket in flight
We're exactly who you want us to be.

Hey kids, would you suddenly feel let down, if we failed to make (yeah-eh!)
The top of the charts, capture everyone’s hearts?
We’re exactly as seen on TV

And when we make it, how we'll bask in the warmth of the lights.
You can tell all your mates at the party too late
That you knew all along you found us.

Hey kids, will we see you at next week's show?
Man, we need you around (yeah-eh!)
Attendance is low cause only coolest kids know
And it’s only coming out on cassette

And when we make it, how you'll bathe in the glow of delight.
Tell us how we sold out, it was never in doubt
Cause we knew all along that we found you

And when we make it somehow, feeling as high as a kite,
You can let out our string.
It's a wonderous thing when you're watching us soar in silence
Track Name: Martha (Cincinnati, 1914)
In 1914, In Cincinnati, I saw you in my mind In the gilded age, in a gilded cage You were the last of your kind.

Once you darkened the skies above Now I’m mourning like a dove.

Why is my spring so silent? Where are the songs we once heard? Why is the sky so empty I could cry? How could this ever have occurred?

When did you fall from glory? What if this is the end? Who’s left to tell the story? When will I see you again?

When did you fall from glory? What if this is the end? So goodbye my one true love, farewell my turtle dove I’ll never see you again.
Track Name: Good Hope
When clipper captains sailed their old wooden ships across the wild and windy seas
They said their prayers for safe, good fast trips; loaded their cargo, grain and teas
They had good hope, good hope
Sometimes they sailed past the fearsome Cape Horn, clung to their memories and rope
Sometimes they’d sail away to Australia and past the place they called Good Hope

And it’s two sides of the same coin, isn’t it?
It could be worse
All the small moments in a small world in one big universe

I read your journals, the letters bold and swirling
The covers covered in gray dust
Retraced your fingerprints, the pages curling where you wrote, “We all do what we must”
But it takes, good hope, good hope
I wondered how very few words aloud carried and if the sun would really set
And away from the crowds very soft hints of cloudberry
And that’s as close as I could get

And it’s two sides of the same coin, isn’t it?
It could be worse
All the small moments in a small world in one big universe

And it’s two sides of the same coin, isn’t it?
It could be worse
All the strange moments in a strange world in one big universe

We need good hope, good hope ...

I’ve got a lighthouse you can borrow
You’ll give it back to me tomorrow