Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dum Dum Girls Get High With You

Dee Dee PennyWith the band name that plays homage to The Vaselines and Iggy Pop, what began as a solo project for singer-drummer Kristin Gundred a.k.a. Dee Dee Penny continues to find a fuzzy garage noise pop following since Penny expanded the band in 2008. She picked the right ones.

Right on the heals of the successful 11-track LP with Jules (guitar, vocals), Bambi (bass), and Frankie Rose (drums) who left last June, Sub Pop dropped another 4-track EP with the band's new drummer Sandy a.k.a. Raveonettes vet Sandra Vu. The EP, He Gets Me High, includes three new tracks and a twangy higher tempo cover of There Is A Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths.

The new EP was produced by Penny, Richard Gottehrer, and Sune Rose Wagner (Raveonettes). It sounds great despite knowing that it will mark the end of the early chapter in the band's career. The Dum Dum Girls' tour was interrupted last year after Penny's mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. What's ahead will be different than what some expect.

"The songs on the EP were the last songs that I had that weren't affected by [losing her mom]," Penny has said. "[The next album is] going to be a pretty dark, sad record. The tone of it is pretty intense."

As the one goes, so goes the band. Even with the change on drums, the band is known for its tightly knit sound. It's easy to see in their live performances, like this solid fan capture of There Is A Light That Never Goes Out cover. (Penny's notes also pick up lower tones in live sessions.)

Almost everyone says the same thing about the cover. They don't expect to like it, but the Dum Dum Girls do an amazing job honoring the way The Smiths' played it while making it their own. It's gold.

So are all of the other tracks. Wrong Feels Right is as strong as anything put out on last year's I Will Be. Take Care Of My Baby drops down the tempo into a deliberate, languishing ballad. And, my favorite, the driving melodic and psychedelic He Gets Me High. The throwback, modernized sound demonstrates the increasing depth of a band that Penny never meant to be a band.

You would never know it based on their stage presence. As soon as they take the stage, it's like somebody hits a switch. You can tell Gottehrer has some influence on the on stage performances as he does in the studio. The strident energy they bring to the stage reminds everyone why they are sudden but deserving Los Angeles-based headliners.

He Gets Me High By The Dum Dum Girls Ratchets Up At 7.5 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Sometimes living in Los Angeles has its privileges. One of them is catching bands before they hit an upward climb. The Dum Dum Girls are much like that for me, knowing they can hypnotize everyone standing in front of the stage with their rhythmically forceful performances.

Right now the Dum Dum Girls are on tour in the southern states and swinging up Florida before heading abroad. Expect big buzz in Europe. He Gets Me High is available on iTunes. You can also find He Gets Me High on Amazon, which also carries vinyl. The Dum Dum Girls' EP is also at Barnes & Noble.
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