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She got her start in the industry as a prolific session musician, first joining John Mellencamp's band in 1987 and proceeding to work with other artists like Simple Minds, David Bowie, Yann Tiersen, Neil Finn, Sheryl Crow, Iggy Pop, Jewel and Eels.
Starting with 1991, she has put out solo work that is innovative and extraordinary. Her music is Dream Pop/Baroque Pop (specifically, the minimally-arranged melancholic This Mortal Coil brand of dream pop) infused with alternative darkness and some folk rock elements. Her songwriting is melancholy yet kooky at times.
However, you have likely not heard it because of Lisa's long string of bad luck with labels and the industry. Her first album, On the Way Down From the Moon Palace, was issued on her own label and therefore didn't win a wide audience but did convince Capitol Records to take a chance. However, just before the release of Happiness, a reorganisation at Capitol axed the jobs of the executives who supported her and killed promotion. Lisa gained back the rights and moved to famous dream pop label 4AD Records. There, she remixed some of the tracks with 4AD's in-house producer John Fryer and put out two more well-received albums. However, 4AD's distribution deal with Warner Bros Records expired in 1998, meaning less resources to promote Slide. That same year, Lisa was hired as backing vocalist for The Smashing Pumpkins' upcoming tour, then fired on the day it was about to begin, and while touring by herself to promote Slide 4AD notified her that she'd be dropped from the label. She quit the music biz for 4 years, then returned only to have another critically-acclaimed album be released on a short-lived label and finally finding a more-or-less permanent home on Young God Records (signed personally by Michael Gira because he was a fan of her music).
Needless to say, all this label-hopping failed to grab a wide audience. Perhaps this page will help.
- On the Way Down From the Moon Palace (1991)
- Happiness (1993 on Capitol originally, was re-released with a different sequencing and new songs in 1994 on 4AD)
- Inconsiderate Bitch (1994, EP comprised of alternate mixes of some songs from Happiness made by John Fryer)
- Geek the Girl (1994)
- Excerpts From a Love Circus (1996)
- Slide (1998)
- Concentrated (2002; her version of a Greatest Hits album)
- Rare, Unusual or Just Bad Songs (2002; compilation of rarities)
- lullaby for liquid pig (2003)
- In the Maybe World (2006)
- Magic Neighbor (2009)
Lisa provides the following tropes:
- Cluster F-Bomb - "... Of Love and Colors" is possibly the creepiest example of this trope. Additionally, we have "Red Thread" from In the Maybe World.
- Concept Album - Geek the Girl, which is about a girl who wants to be sexual and cool, but she remains unpopular and gets taken advantage of. She decides to give up, but then hopes that her life will turn out for the better. Here's an elaborate explanation on the story.
- Creator Breakdown - Lisa had one after the death of her beloved cat Miamo-Tutti. In the Maybe World is the result.
- Department of Redundancy Department - The title of "Sexy Little Girl Princess".
- The first two lines of "Crash" are If you say You could say I feel this way/'Cause it's the way I feel.
- Dull Surprise - She tends to use unemotional, flat-sounding vocals for Lyrical Dissonance or to complement the music.
- Early-Bird Cameo - Her earliest appearance was as the fiddle player in John Cougar Mellencamp's "Paper in Fire" video.
- Hey, It's That Guy! - Lullaby for a Liquid Pig features guest contributions from Johnny Marr and Wendy Melvoin. And on her latest album Magic Neighbour, ambient musician Harold Budd contributes to the song "Painting the Doors".
- It Got Worse - Her past label trouble. Seems she's finally found a permanent label on Young God.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover - Three songs on Excerpts from a Love Circus ("A Beautiful Schizophrenic", "Victoria's Secret" and "Messages from Sophia") end with interludes involving Lisa and her cats.
- Last-Note Nightmare – "… A Psychopath" is an inversion. It's an incredibly creepy song about a Stalker with a Crush from the stalkee's point of view, with a real 911 call playing in the background. Until the last 30 seconds or so, when it breaks into a sampled cheerful-sounding instrumental (specifically an Italian folk song) that wouldn't sound out of place at a circus.
- Lyrical Dissonance - People who like Geek the Girl's whispery vocals and ethereal dream pop are in for a surprise when they pay attention to the more disturbing, Fridge Horror lyrics ("Cry Wolf", "Trouble" and "Cancer of Everything", for example).
- And, again, "Red Thread".
- Magnum Opus - Geek the Girl.
- Mood Whiplash - "... Of Love and Colors" whiplashes between rambling about "fucked-up people" over an ominous musical backing and a more optimistic-sounding piano melody with lyrics imagining a better world.
- Obsession Song – "… A Psychopath" is a very aggressive Obsession Song sung from the perspective of the stalkee.
- Overshadowed by Awesome - Compare how many tropes refer to Geek the Girl and how many to other albums.
- Perishing Alt Rock Voice - A rather childish, whispery one at that.
- Record Producer - She either is involved with production or self-produces her albums (On the Way Down, everything from Liquid Pig onwards). Other people she's worked with include: Malcolm Burn (for Happiness and Geek the Girl), Tchad Blake (Slide), Bill Bottrell (Excerpts From a Love Circus).
- Sampling - That recurring circus melody that appears as an interlude in Geek the Girl, according to the liner notes, was taken from an "Italian folk tune called Frascilita".
- Stalker with a Crush - "... A Psychopath" is probably the most unsettling example of this trope in musical form.