Self Titled CD (SHMAT04)

Released: September 16, 2003

1. Filet
2. The Curse Of The Matador
3. Stun Machine
4. Tidepool (play mp3)
5. Caleb
6. Junior
7. Insomniac
8. Jack London (play mp3)
9. Sailor Song
10. These Bears Can't Be Real
11. Crash Course
12. Calculus Of Love

Recommended for fans of: Belle and Sebastian, Quasi, Versus, Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, The Velvet Underground

During the summer of 1903 one of Jack London’s most famous books, “The Call of the Wild,” was first introduced to the public in the Saturday Evening Post. Exactly one hundred years later, Jack London is simply skewered in a song of the same name by Tigerella, a five-member band from Alhambra, California, on their self-titled debut CD. Why lash out at one of America’s most popular and prolific writers of the early 20th Century? Perhaps because some critics have said that underneath the veneer of this literary giant was a sometimes racist who "published pornographic thrillers uninformed".

But, don’t get Tigerella wrong. They’re not out to change common perceptions or preach universal truths. The literary criticism that gave birth to the song Jack London is just one of many influences on Tigerella’s songwriting on this album. These quiet, unassuming, 30-something, brainy musicians are just as happy to sing about the wonders of nature, humiliation under the big top, the tragic lives of robots and the cynicism and confusion that come with growing up. Expect everything from full-throttle, guitar-driven, rave-ups (Filet, Stun Machine, Jack London) to softer jazz-infused ballads (Sailor Song, Calculus of Love) to eerily somber epics (Caleb, Crash Course).

Tigerella may never settle for one sound. While the common thread that brought them together lies somewhere near the intersection of bands like Pavement, Belle & Sebastian and Yo La Tengo, the individual musical interests of the band members range from free-jazz and hip-hop to folk-rock and indie-pop. Add to these interests the varied professional backgrounds of the band members (a programmer specializing in mathematical and algorithmic methods, an engineer specializing in mobile devices, a product designer, a librarian and a radio technician) and you begin to understand the strange pedigree that is Tigerella.

Reviews / Press

Delusions of Adequacy, June 2004 - Wil

Yep, Tigerella’s self-titled full-length debut sounds pretty much just like the band's name: it’s cute, cuddly, starry-eyed indie pop. And there's pretty boy/girl vocals too. But don’t get all wistful and forlorn, cause these honor-roll Californians from the wonderful Shmat Records label know how to properly blend these subtle twee recipes.

Despite the full instrumentation of drums, bass, guitars, and vocals, the songs still manage to evoke a very personal, lo-fi ‘recorded-in-a-bedroom’ aesthetic. But the first thing you notice is the principal singer, Yvonne Ng, who sounds like the quintessential ‘sensitive girl who sits next to you in science class and writes songs about you’ (ok, so maybe there’s no stereotype for a girl like that, but that’s what she sounds like). I mean, there’s lyrics about sea anemones and coelacanths all over the place (not to mention calculus… CALCULUS?!?), all delicately wrapped in sublime innocence. Only such a voice could sing lines like “In the clearest water /life teems self-sufficient now when / sustenance floats in / subtly escaping detection / demonstrating nature’s perfection” – not exactly your angst-filled teen anthem.

Tigerella has found a wonderful balance between the vocals and the other stars of the show: the twin guitars of Gil Chinn and Bryan Yoshida. Great care has been given to subtle chord shifts and minor inflections that lend an intimate, personal feel to each song – while also serving as pseudo hooks. While not overly intricate or intertwining, the two trade passages nobly, giving and taking with various floating reverbs and delicate clean tones... (Read the full review)

South of Mainstream, February 2004 - SpodySingAlong

Imagine if Liz Phair hadn't decided to go for a commercially viable pop record on her latest outing. Imagine she continued in her radio friendly, but still indie bent for catchy songs laced with silky sarcasm and a skewed, but smart, worl view. I imagine it would sound a lot like Tigerella's self-titled offering.

Lead vocalist Yvonne Ng sounds a lot like Phair, with maybe a little bit of Juliana Hatfield thrown in. The singing style is sort of displaced...like she's thinking of weightier issues while vocallizing, which gives it a sort of dreamy appeal.

Don't let the prettiness of the music cause you to make a snap judgement as some other reviewers have. This is not music for dullards. It's pretty, but there's a decent amount of pep. The first track, "Filet" joins the Dead Milkmen's "Filet of Sole" as one of my favorite songs about preparing fish. It's thrumming sound is also catchy, which adds to the humor of the track. "Stun Machine" has moments of Pixies-esque verve, especially with the distorted male vocals at the end...

Left Off The Dial, November 2003 - Kevin Miller

I know what you’re thinking: “What are those things on the cover?” Why, they’re little tiny paper tigers, of course. Well, they’re actually just tiny paper boxes with ears and tails, but whatever. That’s not the point, because I prefer to look at them in the manner that Rabelais instructed his readers to look at his literature: as les silènes. These ancient little boxes looked like frivolous and useless objects intended to invoke laughter. In fact, they contained precious treasures and fine drugs. And that is exactly what one finds upon listening to Tigerella: beautiful little gems to heal the mind and heart, delicious little voyages to made-up lands, and serious (!) music.

The album opens with four amazing tracks (“The Curse of the Matador” is my personal favorite). Each is packed with a lovable and lo-fi quality. The melodies are strong but not overwhelming, and there is a satisfactory level of lyrical abstraction to keep the listener guessing. Yvonne Ng’s vocals are especially disarming with their charming purity and youthfulness. The majority of the songs seem to deal with the sadness of disappointment and the loss of opportunities and youth. These themes are dealt with in a particularly perspicacious and tasteful manner, making them utterly beautiful... (Read the full review)

Aiding and Abetting #246, October 2003

Mannered pop music with the necessary clever lyrics and slightly off-kilter delivery. Reminds me a lot of the band Clockhammer (a reference that few will recognize, but whatever), with the Wedding Present coming in on slight return. The songs are built around the lyrics, but unlike most band who focus on what their songs "say," Tigerella makes sure to keep the music fresh and interesting. You'd be surprised how many folks can't do this.

The sound is simple and undecorated. Bright, but without any shiny extras. Right where a band like this ought to be. Give the vocals the space they need, and give the stellar playing all the room it needs as well. Quite simply, a joy to hear. Tigerella has a modest vision of itself, but high standards for the end result. The work paid off. This is one fun, quirky album.

Other Reviews:

Indieville, February 2004 - Matt Shimmer
Copacetic Zine, February 2004 - Janice
Splendid E-Zine, January 2004 - Steve English
Smother.Net, Editor's Pick, December 2003 - J-Sin
Agouti Music, October 2003 - Joel Edelman
In Love With These Times, In Spite Of These Times, September 2003