The second track on The Lascivious Biddies’ 2004 album “Get Lucky” is a cover of The Smiths’ classic “Ask.” The bittersweet lyrics of the original remain; Morrissey’s cynical vocals, however, have been replaced by a sugary four-part harmony.
“The beauty of playing a cover is that we can turn any song into a Biddies tune. We ‘biddify’ it, so-to-speak,” said Saskia Lane, who plays double bass and adds vocals for the New York-based all-woman quartet.
That “biddified” sound is culled from four very diverse backgrounds. Lane is a classically trained violinist with an affinity for hip-hop; lead vocalist Lee Ann Westover is a fan of pop and World War II-era melodies; guitarist Amanda Monaco is earning a Master’s Degree in jazz; and pianist Deidre Rodman began in classical music before earning a Master’s in Jazz Studies from the University of North Texas.
Each Biddy brings her own influences into every piece the group tackles. “I think the wide mix I grew up with can be heard in a lot of my playing,” said Lane. “I'll walk a bass line, transition to a more funk driven line, and then top it all off with a bowed solo.”
Westover’s vocals are a similar intermingling of styles. “It’s just a product of who I am. When I was growing up, my Barbies would lip-sync to Pat Benatar. In college, I really got into Ella Fitzgerald. When I moved up here, I started listening to a lot of vintage country.”
The resulting sound for the Biddies is what Westover calls “a post-modern mélange of many different genres, with a great sense of humor.”
Or, “‘cocktail pop.’ That’s the short answer,” she said. “We didn’t create the music according to a genre, but we have to create a genre according to the music.”
ONE GENRE THE Lascivious Biddies have avoided is that of a stereotypical “chic band,” as Lane labeled them, whose looks beguile while its talent dissatisfies.
“If we were four women who couldn’t back it up, we would be a totally different band,” said Westover. “But it’s four women who are really good at what they do, and it’s circumstantial that we’re all female.”
Still, a band as charming as the Biddies can’t completely duck the obligatory ogling, such as The Austin-American Statesman writer who noticed Westover’s “geekish glasses enhancing her offbeat good looks.”
The singer and her bandmates take those comments in stride. “It was a really nice compliment,” said Westover. “If I wanted to look like Nicole Richie, I wouldn’t have glasses. People who are going to be attracted to that are going to be attracted to the music.”
The music is the mission for the Biddies, but keeping the band on the same schedule is a constant challenge. Each member has her own outside projects, ranging from Monaco and Rodman playing jazz to Westover writing for stage and screen. “The older we get, the more each of us wants to broaden our horizons,” said Lane. “That said, it is our commitment to the band and our conscious decision to prioritize the Biddies that lends to the success of the group.”
How fitting that the group’s official Web site can be found at www.biddies4ever.com.
WESTOVER SAID one thing remains consistent when the Biddies take their act on the road — like their upcoming concert with Christine Lavin at The Birchmere, 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave., on Saturday, Nov. 11. She said audiences continue to celebrate discovering their sound. “It was amazing. People kept saying how excited they were that they found us,” she said.
The Internet has made that discovery much easier. The Biddies’ Web site offers a variety of digital media, from music downloads to video clips to the BiddyCast podcast and BiddyBlog. For a band whose radio play is limited to NPR and indie stations, the Web is a vital way to be heard. “I was just thinking how great it is that we live in a time where getting a record deal is an option [rather than mandatory],” said Westover.
Especially when there’s a reason to search out the music.
“People are looking for something different,” said Lane. “They want to enjoy themselves, listen to great music and have a laugh and maybe even a cry — the Biddies can give their audiences that.”