Band: Dum Dum Girls Release: 9/2011 Label: Sub Pop
1. “Always Looking” – A+
2. “Bedroom Eyes” – A 3. “Just A Creep” – A- 4. “In My Head” – A-
5. “Heartbeat” – B+ 6. “Caught in One” – A- 7. “Coming Down” – A+ 8. “Wasted Away” – A- 9. “Teardrops On My Pillow” – B+
10. “Hold Your Hand” – B
Comments: Quick thing that I’ve noticed right off: Dee Dee’s voice goes full-circle in the sexiness/appealing category. “Always Looking” is an Austin Powers 4 sound-track candidate with swampy guitar and even a happy-go-lucky clapping part. FELT! HEART! Haven’t heard that kind of stuff since The Go Team! In terms of stuffiness of hooks and all that stuff (pun intended), this album gets high marks. I’ve always thought Dum Dum Girls had some serious development potential when I saw them open twice for KK+BBQ. It was a relatively new band at the time so things live weren’t as “hitting” as on record. But this record is much fuller than I Will Be. We get better harmonies, better vocal focus. As various press releases indicate, Only in Dreams is about relationship emptiness and life emptiness. Despite this subject matter, it never really gets in the way of fun rock ‘n’ roll. It gives Dee Dee a much better platform as a song-writer. Make no mistaking Dum Dum Girls with their girl group contemporaries. The middle chunk of songs are fine pieces, but it’s not until “Coming Down” that things pick up. This song is powerful (as I’ve mentioned in a previous review) and will knock you on your ass if your susceptible to this kind of excellence. Upon showing it to someone, they quipped… is this a live recording? Not so much the case, though the distorted/washed guitars make one wonder. I am fan of this. Puts more focus on the beautiful songwriting. Bridge is perfect: “I THINK I’M COMING DOWN. HERE I GO…HERE I GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.” It does indeed have the same chord progression/vocal stylings as Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You,” but builds on it in a very modern fashion. As a rule, I Will Be packs more immediate punches, more in your face(ness) than Only in Dreams. Only in Dreams takes its time and this just goes to show to you how far this band has come. Going from Sub Pop rookies, to King Khan and BBQ Show openers, to Girls openers, they’ve spent quite a bit of time covering a lot of ground while getting their music out there. And great for them. They are headlining The Paradise in October. Check this out, check that out.
Comments: The Furs played at Great Scott on April 13. I’m going to go out on a limb and say they enjoy playing in Boston to come back again as part of a larger summer tour. We fans enjoy them and look forward to the release of their third album, Sound Kapital.
Congratulations to Matador Records for taking the cake in this one. The three Matador/True Panther albums that I noted below were securely in my Top 10 Albums of 2010 list. So, good job, Matador! Keep it up and here’s to 21 more years! Sub Pop and Fat Possum, two other large independent labels, put out some great records as well. On the smaller scale, Goner Records, based in Memphis, released a handful (probably even more) of quality records and I can only guess that 2011 will be another great year for that label and store. Burger Records, which has garnered national attention for its release of cassettes, is small as well, but their devotion to music and the bands that they put out is overwhelmingly large. As far as “better luck next year” labels go, we’ve got In The Red. In The Red has been a consistent favorite for me, but nothing that they put out this year really floored me. It was a bit of an off-year for Domino Records as well. Of course, that can go out without saying the year after releasing two stellar records, Merriweather Post Pavilion [Animal Collective] and Humbug [Arctic Monkeys]. EMI did pretty awful, but that’s expected too…it is a major label after all. Warner Brothers was a mixed bag; Devo’s LP was pretty good, but nothing else really tickled my fancy. I know a lot of people were feeling Dr. Dog and the Black Keys (especially) this year.
Top 5! 1. Matador/True Panther Records – Notable Releases: Hippies [Harlem], Gay Singles [Hunx & His Punx], Memphis [Magic Kids]
2. Sub Pop – Notable Releases: Teen Dream [Beach House], I Will Be [Dum Dum Girls], Everything In Between [No Age]
3. Fat Possum Records – Notable Releases: King of the Beach [Wavves], Lisbon [Walkmen]
4. Goner Records – Notable Releases: First Blood [Nobunny], Melted [Ty Segall]
5. Burger Records – Notable Releases: Cum Stain [Cum Stain], Shame, Shame [APACHE]
Worst! 1. EMI – Un-notable Releases: Of the Blue Colour of the Sky [OK GO], Sea of Cowards [Massive Attack]
2. Domino – Un-notable Releases: There Is Love In You [Four Tet], Hidden [These New Puritans]
Comments: This 7″ of leftover material from the Expo 86 sessions fits snug with what Expo gave to us. “Semi-Precious Stone” has the electronic elements — synthesizer, keyboard, distorted guitar — that we’ve gotten a taste of. It’s a larger than life, mythical tune sung by Spencer Krug. His vocal delivery is especially Sunset Rubdown-esque (in contrast to, say, his vocal delivery on “Cloud Shadow”). I’d say “Agents of Love” is one of the more passionate rockers I’ve heard from the group since maybe the Apologies days. It’s not especially heavy or anything like that, but all the instruments are very compact, for lack of a better word.
Blurb from the Hardly Art website:
News headlines don’t lie! The titillating bubblegum pop outfit Hunx & His Punx have signed with Hardly Art, with a brand new full-length forthcoming in early 2011. The new lineup – featuring an all-girl all-star group in addition to Hunx – is currently in the studio in NY and will perform their last show of the year at the Hardly Art showcase at Shea Stadium in Brooklyn on 10/21. Find more details on their artist page, stream a handful of tracks over at the band’s MySpace, and stay tuned for more info on the band’s new LP!
Hardly Art is a sister label of Sub Pop Records. ——————–
Band: Happy Birthday Release: 3/2010 Label: Sub Pop
1. “Girls FM” – A 2. “2 Shy” – B+ 3. “Cracked” – C+ 4. “Perverted Girl” – B+ 5. “Subliminal Message” – B- 6. “Eyes Music” – C+ 7. “Maxine The Teenage Eskimo” – B+ 8. “I Want to Stay (Run Away)” – B 9. “Pink Strawberry Shake” – B 10. “Zit” – C 11. “Fun” – B
Comment: Right off the bat, Happy Birthday sounds like Islands. That comparison pretty much dies, though, after “Girls FM.” Considering the band is still obscure as fuck (they were signed out of the blue by Sub Pop after forming in late 2008), it’s necessary to give them a decent amount of credit just for releasing something polished relatively quickly out of nowhere. I can’t really describe the sound too well on this record. It’s merely an eclectic pop record…what the “independent” big shots like to call “indie-pop.” That really doesn’t tell anyone much, unfortunately. On “Maxine,” you’ll definitely hear some surf-pop Beach Boy influence. Like you’re deaf or something if you can’t hear that. I guess I could namedrop Girls as well, but Happy Birthday is much more spastic. They do a pretty bad attempt at garage/punk on “Zit.” I don’t know, I thought I was going to like this record more than it turns out in the end. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but nothing special.