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Bye Bye Berta


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  • Palberta are an all-female trio who play absurdist, fragmentary quasi-pop songs equally reminiscent of post-punk groups like the Raincoats and LiLiPUT as well as no wave bands like Mars and DNA. Their songs are playful and volatile, switching from playful, pre-pubescent glee to cathartic tantrums at barely a moment's notice. All three members (Anina Ivry-Block, Lily Konigsberg, and Nina Ryser) switch instruments and combine vocals, which sound like the art-damaged offspring of the Roches. They've been making noise since they met as students at Bard College, and by this point they've released several albums and EPs on vinyl and cassette. Bye Bye Berta is their debut for Wharf Cat Records after releases on the likeminded OSR Tapes and Feeding Tube Records, and it's easily their most ambitious work yet, containing 20 tracks and much higher fidelity than their previous recordings. A few guest musicians join them, contributing baritone horn and bass (which is sometimes bowed). Except for a few more experimental pieces near the end of the disc, almost all of the songs are under two minutes, and many of them have basic lyrics consisting of a repeated phrase or two. Sometimes songs will start by barreling out of the gate, then quickly fizzle out. Others seem like audio games, such as "Trick Ya," which gradually speeds up before toppling apart, with the group unable to avoid erupting into fits of laughter -- but then the last half of the song consists of sparse plucking and scraping. A few tracks exhibit genuine moments of affection, such as "Why'd You Cry" and "Honey, Baby," but then there are more intense, thrashy tracks like "Jaws" and "Sick." Also, they throw in a slow, minute-long cover of "Stayin' Alive," with purposefully inaccurate lyrics, because why not? By "Get Around" they sound worn down, and the song trudges to four minutes, leading into tape collage experiment "Bells, Pt. A." Then the album ends with "Filling Empty," which starts out as another burst of hopscotch-punk before transforming into slow, backwards notes. ~ Paul Simpson
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