Blast from the past: Morbid Opera
Blast From the Past is a column appearing every Thursday on Crossfade, Miami New Times' South Florida music blog, at blogs.miaminewtimes.com.
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While holding this seven-inch EP in my hands for what might be the umpteenth time, I finally noticed how goofy the band's name looks across the top. It looks like something penned on the fly and without any thought that it might be around 27 years later. But here it is, and now I'm really noticing that the dude on the cover has shark-like teeth, and the cross beside him is more ominous than cute. This looks like a bad dream of pimp crusaders and mosquito shades envisioned as part of a long-lost blaxploitation flick.
Surreal cover art aside, it's with a heavy heart that I report Morbid Opera's charismatic lead vocalist, Lisa Hodapp, passed away April 12 after a struggle with cancer. She was 49 years young and leaves behind her husband (fellow punker and Roach Motel/Drug Czars guitarist Jeff Hodapp), teenage kids, and many people who called her a friend and who looked up to her within our little scene. Cancer is a fucker.
I tracked down this six-song EP about ten years ago for around 15 bucks, and I've loved its quirky, almost psychotropic garage-tinged, female punk rock ever since. Side A opens with the X or Waitresses-sounding "Liar," which takes flight and rocks out with Lisa's vocals running for speed along with the instrumentation. Drummer Carmen and bassist Libby do a good job of providing rhythm for Nelson's guitar to jangle over, before getting into the more somber, mid-tempo "Private Prostitute," which is heavier on the psychedelics than the hardcore. Side A closes with "Deep End," a slow jam of sporadic drums and tripping guitars that almost begs the criminal misuse of a drunken keyboard solo. Don't ask — that's just what I get from it.
Side B opens with the straight rocker "One-Dimensional," which has a subtle country and western motif running underneath. The song unearths something sexy in Lisa's voice that reminds me of the more New Wave leanings of scene contemporaries the Cichlids. (That's another, mostly female outfit from South Florida. And they say we're degenerates here!) "Madness" is a creepy take on psychobilly moments that relies on ritualistic-sounding vocals. The EP's closer, "Sledgehammer," combines the previous five songs' styles and adds a little swamp funk for a slow and lysergics-laced tune of desperate wailing and mumbled truths.
Lisa Hodapp was an incredible figure on the South Florida scene. From her work in Morbid Opera to Monistat 7 to the Gargirls, she touched many lives through her music and inspired many; Kreamy 'Lectric Santa's Priya in particular cites her as an influence. She will be missed. Rest in peace, Ms. Hodapp, and thank you for the music.
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