Duchess of Saigon Easter Queen EP (S-S, 2002)
Time to tap into the S-S Records catalog of fine music. Though raved about by a select few when it was released (Byron Colley, WFMU, Ryan Wells, Jay Hinman), the debut by Sacramento's Duchess of Saigon was S-S Records' worst selling record. Although we pressed only 300, it took a little over 4 years to sell out the pressing. If I was to take a jab at why, I'd say sales were hindered by the hideous sleeve and, perhaps, it was released a few years too early. Too bad, maybe a little recognition would have kept the band around.
Formed in 2001, the Duchess of Saigon were Mary and Richard. Two artists, they met at UC Davis, started seeing each other and then formed a band. Though Richard had been in a handful of Sacramento bands (Rick & the Young Rogues, Sir & the Young Men), Duchess was Mary's first band. She was handed the drum duties...and good thing, too! Because she was unencumbered by formal lessons, Mary developed a unique drumming style in which she would keep the beat with her feet and play the melody with her hands. The unconventional approach to percussion, as well as her ethereal backing vocals, gave Richard's VU-influenced garage-pop songs an excellent twist. One reviewer likened them to the Carpenters if played by the Shaggs.
The first time I saw Duchess of Saigon, they were horrible. Just a goddamn mess of a band. However, the second time, six months later, they convinced me they were the best band in town and I hurriedly asked them if I could put out a record. That record is Easter Queen. We pressed 300, it sold slowly, and finally went out of print. Another Sacramento label, Plastic Idol, put out their second seven inch. That, too, sold slowly and is, I think, still in print. It is as good as the first.
The Duchess were working on an album, but recording and equipment problems kept dragging the project on. Mary, frustrated with her drumming, lost interest and quit. About a year later, both Mary and Richard picked up and moved to Florida. I do not know if they are playing music now.
Here are 3 of the 4 songs on Easter Queen. It is one of the best records I ever had a hand in.