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Sex and the CD

Misty Murphy downplays the cheesecake (a little) with her solo debut Circles.


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Like most women, Misty Murphy wants to be seen and heard. To that end, she looks great and sounds likewise. But of course, one sometimes eclipses the other.

Come on, can you guess which one?

If you’re a guy, your hand is already in the air. Because she dressed sensually onstage, Murphy, late of popular-yet-defunct local glam-rockers Cork, attracted some negative attention. That she was playing some of the best rock & roll in the city was lost on a few shortsighted individuals.

“It had nothing to do with the music,” says Murphy. “They either liked what I was doing onstage or they hated what I was doing onstage. And I don’t think what I was doing was shocking at all. It was what I was wearing.”

A sheer top, a bare midriff. Maybe a hip-sway. That was about the extent of Murphy’s naughty rap sheet, and the reason wives and girlfriends would squawk about her and often forbid their men to attend Cork shows. Murphy still hears stories. “Even now, I have people come up to me. One guy, a local drummer, said that his wife wouldn’t even allow him to go see Cork because she just thought I was trampy onstage because of what I wore and she didn’t want him around that,” she laughs.

With the release of her solo bow, Circles (, Murphy says she expects more of the same. The album art is sexy—very sexy. And her promo shots? Forget about it. She appears as if she’s shooting for the cover of Maxim. But hey, we’re straying off topic. Hot or not, this is about music.

Rewind to Circles: Where Cork mined the glitter and flash of glam rock and laced it with electronica, Murphy undresses it and wraps it up as sultry electro-pop. Each track was composed in her living room or (here it comes) bedroom, just vox and acoustic guitar. Blips and bleeps still play a role (contributed by former Cork cohorts Todd Winn and Brian Kessler, the proprietor of Invisibleland Records) and lend a sultry Garbage sheen. Any track on Circles is more than ripe for radio, including the percolating, Poe-ish “Circles” and the chimey baptism “Lazuli.” The true standout, however, is first single/video (to be lensed by Dirk Douglas, the guy responsible for the cheesecake photos) “Glass Ménagère,” which sounds so good, Murphy says, because it was engineered by “the guy who engineered for Metallica” (credited only as “a.m.”).

It’s evident no better pop music has bubbled up in this valley. Where other pop poseurs have failed, Misty Murphy succeeds, perhaps because she’s not simply a bimbo with a Casio and some pissy poems. Rather, she’s a savvy, sassy and—let’s put it on the table—sexy songwriter with a fine record that, played loud enough, ought to shift the focus and quiet the crows.

“I really hesitated to even record this stuff,” she reveals. “I’m not very good with criticism … it’s a hard scene to be in. I think, ‘Oh, wow—maybe I shouldn’t [be sexy]’ because I’m trying to appeal to women more than anything, because I’m a woman and I’m writing about my experiences as a woman. I hate feeling like maybe women will hate me because of what I’m wearing. I’m trying to be a little bit more careful, just for that reason. Well, maybe I’m not being careful. I don’t know [laughs]. I’m just doing what I’m doing.” T