Give 'em Hellen: While I do not harbor full confidence that, with their current musical output, the Sisters Duponte are peddling "the future of Phoenix death metal," kudos to the two young ladies for creating heavy music in a male-dominated genre, especially at such a young age. And kudos to New Times writer Niki D'Andrea for giving them some spotlight ("Twisted Sisters," November 30).
After listening to the songs on their MySpace page, it seems that though their band, Hellen, has the ability to produce guttural growls and roaring riffs, their music is more along the lines of nu-metal like Coal Chamber, Lacuna Coil, and Static X (influences they readily admit) than first-rate brutality in the vein of Death, Carcass, Pestilence.
Still, my sincere best wishes are extended and hopes encouraged that they abandon the nth generation mall angst routine and stick to drawing from their professed classical and opera loves, as well as the excellent crop of present-day technical/progressive death metal, in order to truly become the flag-bearers of Phoenix death, if that is even their own goal.
Finally, in regard to D'Andrea's assertion that "you can count the number of female singers who excel in the punishing death-grunt style on one hand," I beg to differ greatly. In the past decade alone, there have been numerous female vocalists who perform the traditional "Cookie Monster" style quite well. A sampling from the metal and hardcore scenes includes: Logan White (Undying), Marianne (Menelaus), Sara TYSB (This Time Tomorrow), Eva Genie (Gather), Ally French (Bloodlined Calligraphy), Candace Kucsulain (Walls of Jericho), Karyn Crisis (Crisis), the lovely Japanese gore grind gals of Flagitious Idiosyncrasy in the Dilapidation, and quite possibly the most in-your-face femme fatale in the game today, Zdenka Prado (Estuary).
Hopefully, the ranks of ladies in extreme music whether it be through starting a band/label/'zine, taking photos at shows or simply stage diving with everyone else will only continue to rise.
K. Nelson, Phoenix
Sister act: Great article on Mindy and Desiree Duponte. They are two very talented sisters, and I hope this article will open up some doors for a great music career for them. I hope to see the two of them here in Atlanta in the future.
Rosemary Thomas, Atlanta, Georgia
Breadwinners and circuses: Your article "Mountain Music: Bringing the Hoedown" by Brendan Joel Kelley (November 9) was awesome!
It's not often that someone from the press will go to listen to a bluegrass band (not like there's many places you can do that except The Loft in Tempe every Tuesday night) and have a clue about bluegrass music or the way it is performed.
Most music journalists think we're like the Beverly Hillbillies, complete with missing teeth and a family tree that goes straight up!
The Breadwinners are a professional band in every sense of the word, and Brendan picked up on that immediately. The only thing that Brendan hasn't seen is the crowds we've been having.
Candice Miracle, The Breadwinners, Glendale
Shock and awe: You guys used just about every funny clich possible in that Taser article in The Bird ("Tasered Talons," December 7). Well done!
After witnessing a friend get Tasered a few years ago, I also found it funny that the cop got porcupined during a training session. I only wish the thing had been attached to the gun so he could have gotten a full charge and seen how the other half lives.
Tasers really are terrible devices. The cops use them just so they don't have to get their hands dirty doing things the conventional way. That is, arguing with unruly suspects who aren't pointing weapons at them or being violent in any way. The tendency is for police to get trigger-happy with the devices and sometimes Taser people who merely talk back to an officer.
In the incident I mention, the cop objected to something my friend was doing, which was perfectly legal, though loud and obnoxious. My friend called the cop an asshole and told him to mind his own business, and then he gets Tasered! What the fuck happened to freedom of speech?! Neither the cop nor anybody else was in any danger.
From my standpoint, I just think Tasers make it easy for cops to abuse citizens, when before they might have just talked the whole thing out.
Tim Boyer, via the Internet
Lab dogs: Thank you so much for giving some clarity as to what Covance is ("Monkey Love," The Bird, Stephen Lemons, December 7). I am a member of Citizens Against Covance, and I believe this is one of the best articles I've read lately about Covance and its Big Brother tactics.