The Last Letter CD (BING-015)
Release Date: 2/15/99
Tanya Sullivan – guitar, vocals
Larissa Nurt – accordian, vocals
Jennifer Simpson – penny whistle, mandolin, xylophone, toy piano, bohdran, maracas
“North America’s complete answer to the early Raincoats.” -Adventure Playground
The tiny miracle The Receptionists performed in their three years together will likely never receive proper recognition. Formed by three Freshman Vassar girls in 1994, the group went on to record and play in dorm rooms all across campus, stepping out only once for a short Northeastern tour with Vehicle Flips. Most of their shows were at college parties. Many were organized with the sole intent of giving them a forum to play. Collected on The Last Letter is a substantial portion of their songs, some previously released and some new, including every song from their first release, The Memo EP seven-inch, save “Drinking Fountain” (purely a pressing screwup).
While some lazily categorize them as some East Coast vessel for Olympia-spawned pop, The Receptionists create music more intelligent and visceral than most of the celebrated unskilled twee chirpers of their time. Tanya and Larissa trade off singing and songwriting duties, and while Tanya?s songs capture an earnest view of love within a swift and charming pop structure, Larissa’s music encases oblique lyrics and her powerful voice. Picking up accordians, toy pianos, bodhrans, penny whistles, mandolins and maracas along the way, the band carefully incorporates the many varied instruments into their melodies without letting the songs get too busy. Instead of overpopulating their music with layers of instrumentation, the group relies on the Russian and Irish folk traditions, which form the basis for their work, letting the simplistic beauty of their songs rise to the forefront.