"It's frustrating to learn the guitar, because you suck so bad for the first week or two," explains Dee Dee Penny, the singer/songwriter at the center of Dum Dum Girls. "I could not handle sucking, so I just said, 'Fuck that.'"
That was about 18 years ago, when Penny still went by the name Kristin Gundred and based most of her chord progressions around the buzzsaw riffs of Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. In the vaguely… more »
D.I.Y. and hi-fi have rarely gone hand in hand. From the muscular crackle of Black Flag to the basement anthems of Guided by Voices, the sound of indie rock has long been the proudly noisy product of four walls and a four-track recorder. As laptops have replaced boomboxes, the aesthetic has endured, with bands embracing digital fuzz as a signal of both outsider cool and a thin wallet.
But with the late-2000s lo-fi boom that launched… more »
Four years ago, I flew from Portland to New York to see my favorite band, New Zealand's garage-pop trio the Clean, play three shows at a glorious pit called Cake Shop. The openers were Crystal Stilts, a Brooklyn group with no records out whose moody and noisy music pushed all the right buttons. I quickly befriended the group, especially guitarist JB Townsend and his then-girlfriend Frankie Rose, whose own band Vivian Girls were soon-to-be favorites.… more »
While Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino radiates all the sunny musical signposts of her native Los Angeles — specifically, surf guitar riffs and beach-buoyant harmonies — Wax Idols' Oakland transplant Hether Fortune sings, writes and generates a sound that references several decades of dark British alt-rock, albeit with a contemporary DIY spirit. Like other buzzy Bay Area bands, Fortune and her supporting players prove that punk and pop can still come together without going corporate.
eMusic's Barry… more »
Over the course of the last several years, so much time and space has been given over to questioning the value and relevance of New York's CMJ Festival that it hardly seems worthwhile to repeat the process here. The festival - now in its third decade - still puts forth a serviceable lineup of bands for anyone interested enough in burning the better part of a week shuttling from one end of the city to… more »
Dum Dum Girls may borrow their aesthetic from '60s girl groups, but their crackling guitar-pop doesn't sound dated, especially when it touches darker themes. "This year's been a drag/ Who knew it'd be so bad," Dee Dee sings in "Caught in One" — and she's not kidding. Written during the last days of her mother's struggle with terminal cancer, Only in Dreams explores emotional volatility, but never surrenders or collapses. It is Dee Dee's most… more »
File Under: Trashy garage rock and punk, with a smattering of catchy pop
Flagship Acts: Smith Westerns, Dum Dum Girls, Woven Bones, Box Elders, Wizzard Sleeve
Based In: Chicago, Illinois
In less than five years, Chicago's HoZac has released close to 80 records, and while it's easy to categorize the majority of that batch under the nebulous "garage/punk" umbrella, the label has dabbled in pop and folk as well. In fact, the Windy City imprint's catalog is all… more »
File Under: Ragged, guitar-based indie pop; jangle-'n'-reverb forever!
Flagship Acts: Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing, the Fresh & Onlys, the Girls At Dawn
Based In: Brooklyn, New York
When I first meet Mike Sniper, he's drinking Patron Silver at an Oyster Bar in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. From any other record executive, the scene would be typical to the point of almost seeming mundane. But Sniper is the founder of the tiny, ragged Brooklyn indie Captured Tracks, a label that prizes… more »
The shortest song on Male Bonding's full-length debut, Nothing Hurts, is a frantic 89 seconds long; the longest is still comfortably under the three-minute barrier. Formed by three former record-store co-workers, they're way too caffeinated and enthusiastic to bother with anything that doesn't get straight to the point, and their songs sprint noisily from hook to hook to finish line. As you might expect, they're hardcore music geeks they run a label in their… more »