There’s this thing about the modern versions of the punk/garage universe occupied by folks like The Strange Boys, Nobunny, etc.: Lots of it sounds the same.  It’s a driving beat with occasional flourishes, a chainsaw guitar, vocals with echo, and ample fuzzy guitar breaks that sound like The Byrds on crystal meth.  I must receive a submission a week from bands that sound like this.  So when I heard the first song (“It Only Takes One Night”) off the new debut full-length from the Dum Dum Girls, I wasn’t impressed.  (If you’re a regular reader, though, you know I don’t write about bands who don’t impress me.  So don’t stop reading here!)  It’s shoegaze garage punk.  Then I saw the bio and found that the bandleader’s name is Dee Dee, they’re from L.A., on Sub Pop, and produced by veteran Richard Gottehrer (The Vovoids, Blondie, The Go-Go’s).   Again: Ho-hum.

But it’s my policy that unless the first song absolutely sucks, I will give every album a fair shake.  So I listen on. And it gets better.  There’s no overmodulated screaming.  The hooks are 1960s garage grind, sure, but the drumming is . . . Special.  Frankie Rose (Crystal Stilts, Vivian Girls) sounds ordinary until you really listen.  She’s  not just keeping time–she’s the person in charge here.  On the title track, for example, she runs ahead of the vocals and the rest of the band.  That’s unusual.  Unhead of, actually, because most of these D.I.Y. bands aren’t capable of chasing of the drummer and when they try, they sound like mud.  But on the very next song, “Lines in Her Eyes,” they take the opposite track, and the entire band can’t seem to keep up with lead singer Kristin “Dee Dee” Gundred. This is not to take away from the rest of the group, either: All play an important part in the overall sound here. That’s really the thing that makes Dum Dum Girls stand out: They play like a team, without losing that loose “we’re figuring it out as we go along” punky vibe.  This “power quartet” of four ladies has something.

Jail La La (direct download)

D.A.L. (non-album track) (direct download)

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