Switchblade Symphony

Sweet Little Witches

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Given the darkwave scene's life-sustaining cliquishness and the importance of Switchblade Symphony to that community, it's no surprise that the Bay Area group's mystique thrived there even after it announced a hiatus in 1999. Sweet Little Witches acts as an official bootleg, collecting 14 live performances and a bonus video track for "Dirty Dog." It covers the main points of all three Switchblade studio efforts, drawing mainly from a 1997 show at the Trocadero in Philadelphia and a set at California's Ventura Theatre from 1999. The mix is incredibly pristine throughout, and the audiences prove to be quite attentive, preferring polite, fawning applause and the occasional "we love you!" to raucous hoots and hollers. Tina Root's stage chatter is beguiling and delightfully eccentric; typically, her response to the adulation is to laugh in a girlish, almost surprised way that's very disarming. The frequent call-and-response meows can be trying, but that communication also illustrates the darkwave scene's intense audience-to-artist relationship. Veterans and newcomers alike should enjoy Sweet Little Witches, as it's a greatest-hits album, a live recording, and a wonderfully weird introduction into Switchblade's kooky coven. Album highlights include "Into the Sky," "Funnel," "Dollhouse," and the Baroque drone of closer "Clown."

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