“Every time you smile I can tell you’re just showing your teeth.” That’s the droning, menacing chorus of the best cut (“Teeth”) from The Ette’s new record, Wicked Will. And we immediately feel a connection: We’ve all loved dogs like that. The cynical, insightful lyric pretty much sums up what I loved about this album.
The Ettes are, I suppose, retro. But the power trio’s brand of power punk feels more fresh and exciting than the word retro would suggest. It doesn’t sound like a tribute to the Ramones (although clearly it has been influenced); it’s not ironic; it’s not using garage band fuzz to hide poor musicianship. The music feels organic, appropriately rough, almost improvised. Yeah, it could have come out of the 1960s, but it’s also timeless.
Another notable cut is their cover of Lee Hazleton’s “My Baby Cried All Night Long”—the song is transformed from sentimental to raucous. I don’t know what he did to deserve it, but lead singer and guitarist Coco Hames almost seems happy that her baby is so sad. He must have been quite a jerk.
Then there’s the almost psychedelic “The Worst There Is,” a piano driven tune that states: “When you’re the worst there is, there’s nothing to fear/That’s why you and I are here.” What does that mean? I’m not sure, but it resonates.
For fans of: The Ramones, The Ravonettes, The Black Keys…Y’know, bands like that. The album was produced by Liam Watson, who has worked with The Kills and White Stripes.