WNY’s Alison Pipitone

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Alison Pipitone 2011 [photos taken by Katie Ambrose]

Alison Pipitone is a singer/songwriter/guitarist from Buffalo, NY. She is best compared to Atlanta, GA’s Michelle Malone with shades of Lucinda Williams, Liz Phair, and a little Joan Jett spunk. Alison is also a proud, outspoken gay woman, and, her experiences are often reflected in her song’s lyrics. She is amazingly talented and beautiful, and, I think she is absolutely adorable in these photos above. That smile, in the one on the right, just kills me.

Alison Pipitone‘s first 4 solo albums [Life in the First Person (1995), Down To Money (1997), Like Being Born (1998), and, the first on her own Slice Records, Shake It Around (2000)] introduced her signature sound which is characterized by often ragged, sometimes bittersweet, but, always vibrant and earnest Americana-ish rock; while her 5th [I’ll Ask Her (2002)] delivered a more intimate, acoustic sound. All are excellent albums, but, I started to notice Alison Pipitone with her 6th album, Retrodyne (2003), and, it has remained my favorite in this woman’s wonderful discography. However, more amazing albums [as the Alison Pipitone Band] followed: Tigerbabies (2006), Me and Miss Grimes (2009), and, her most recent, Big Wide World (2013).

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So, allow me to share my top 10 favorite Alison Pipitone songs, 2003-2013 …

1. “I Dn’t Remember You” (2003). This ragged rocker is the first track on Retrodyne, and, although the next track on this list brought me to Alison Pipitone, this one convinced me to stick around. Her earnest lyrics are a big part of Pipitone‘s charm. “I remember the breath I breathed when you held me / I remember the strength you had when I cried,” she recalls about an ex-lover who is no longer the girl she once knew.

2. “Roller Derby Queen” (2009). This track is, in fact, the first Alison Pipitone song I ever heard, via the very cool video, in which the singer plays temptress to a (married?) straight woman: “When she crosses her faithful legs / I feel a little guilty cause I’m changin’ her ways.” I love the look Alison gives, at the end of the video, after the roller girl stops and kisses her. Adorable! So, watch the video here …

3. “No More This And That” (2003). This rootsy rocker delivers one of Alison‘s most infectious hooks with one of her best lines: “No more being alone when I’m not alone.” The breezy rhythm that drives this song, in the verses, recalls something specific, but, I just can’t place it!

4. “When Down Comes Tumbing Down” (2009). This upbeat rocker will get your tapping your foot in no time. I love this line: “My youth was wasted on me when I was young.” Her twisting of phrases is right up there with the master, Paul Westerberg.

5. “Helpless” (2013). I love how Alison sings the verses softer, lower; but, the video is what I like the most about this song. “I am helpless / It’s you I miss,” she sings, over clips of people holding photos of missed loved ones. I feel so bad for the guy holding the photo of the pug in the green sweater! The look on his face is heartbreaking. I really mean that, by the way. Watch the video here …

6. “Hello Is Not the Word” (2009). This is another rootsy rocker about a whirlwind romance. “Hello is not the word / So take it all off,” Alison sings. But, this time, the (straight) girl’s regretful: “She calls me sorry / For the things we’ve done / She says it’s all against the law or God or someone.” Alison‘s such a little minx!

7. “I’m Not Sorry” (2013). This song is a wistful Springsteen-esque ballad kind of like “I’m On Fire” except not about desire but, again, regret, or, more precisely, not regretting an ill-fated hook-up in hindsight. I love this line: “Maybe we could meet / In the middle of the night /Maybe I could change / A little of your life.”

8. “Some” (2009). I love the gritty riff in this song. Alison recalls all of her (many) relationships, or just some of the ones we’ve all had. Favorite line: “Some let you see what was naked and plain / Some were just around for the sake of being around … today.”

9. “Retrodyne” (2003). I like this song, mostly, for the line, “As we lie in sheets of cotton / I don’t mind if we’re forgotten,” which is an obvious reference to The Replacements“Bastards of Young” and its line, “Beats pickin’ cotton / And waitin’ to be forgotten.” The Replacements are another one of Piptone‘s influences.

10. “Getting Married” (2003). This heartfelt acoustic ballad is about finding your soulmate in someone you don’t even know: “You don’t know it but we’ve always been together / You don’t know it but you’ve loved me forever.” This is the second best song ever with the words “getting married” in the title, after Tommy Keene‘s “If You’re Getting Married Tonight”.

And, since Tigerbabies isn’t fairly represented in my top 10 …

11. “sUnShinestAr” (2006). This track is unashamed power pop goodness. In the end, Alison repeats, “You’re a star! Your a star!” She is a star and, hopefully, one day, the mainstream will catch her.

Alison Pipitone has so much good music, so go check her out and pick out your own favorites!

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