Wig Wam Bam is finally reviewing shows you may have seen a year ago (which, lucky for me, you can’t recall so I can make up facts with impunity) and may (or not) be found whenever I damn well please at the Kosmos, Cellar Door Gifts & Gallery, Burt’s, Low Spirits, Natural Sound, Silver Board Shop, Newsland, Launchpad and Blackbird Buvette. How’s your memory?
FIVE STAR MOTELLES
My biggest regret in life is not marrying Veronica Bennett aka Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes. Despite most of the band already being spoken for, boys are lining up on bended knee to ask for the Five Star Motelles’ collective hand in marriage due to their hotness, musically and otherwise.
The five stars of the Five Stars are the lovely and talented von Bonbon sisters. They all share vocals except for the frolic-some Frau von Bonbon (drummer Gio of Hit By A Bus) but I hope that’s remedied tout de suite. On electric guitar is the coquettish Coco von Bonbon (Laura of the Gracchi) who with her fancy fingernails shreds the strings and possibly your face if you misbehave. Acoustic guitar is slung by the bangled Bonbon von Bonbon (Miss Minie of Holiday Sail) whose alternately full and cooing voice is as sweet as her under-stated strumming. The giocoso Gigi (Ya Ya Boom’s Marisa) thumps the bottom end on both bass and vocals. And the nimble Nastia von Bonbon (Warehouse 508) tickles the keys and your fancy.
Besides the Detroit Cobras I’ve never had much use for cover bands but the Five Stars know how to do it: acknowledge the inspiration but stamp the songs with your signature. Its safe bet I was the only one in the room alive when all the songs were originally on the charts. And what a pedigree these have! The Crystals’ Then He Kissed Me and Da Doo Ron Ron --both penned in 1963 by Phil Spector and Brill Building trailblazers Jeff Barry & Ellie Greenwich; 1962’s He’s A Rebel, written by Gene Pitney who wrote Hello Mary Lou for Ricky Nelson; Money (That’s What I Want) on the Tamla label written in 1960 by Motown Records founder Berry Gordy (with Janie Bradford) for singer Barrett Strong who went on to write I Heard It Through the Grapevine, War and Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone; Unchained Melody was originally recorded in 1955 but became a hit ten years later when Spector produced the definitive Righteous Brothers version;
Eighteen year old Leslie Gore’s You Don’t Own Me from 1964; and many more.
My sole complaint was Gio’s lack of a vocal mic, given her vocal power in her old heavy rock outfit Hit By A Bus. Keep watching for more fun and (yes!) originals from the Five Stars. If they did the Ronettes’ Be My Baby I would be the Motelles’ willing slave for all eternity.
CRAFTPUNK FASHION SHOW
A bunch of party dolls walkin’ the catwalk displaying couture wear cobbled together by some of the ‘burque’s premiere crafty/ girly designers intermittent with live music. Excalico Nate (Oktober People) exhibited his usual sweetly built live loops. I say usual but only because he’s managed a stellar set almost every time. We’re getting spoiled. The Hollow Lines was chuck full of loud and fuzzy goodness with a bit of Brit psych. Mark even did the catwalk thing with a few other guys but most of the boys’ clothes weren’t much more than jeans and tees with a subdued splash of color or a Nikki Zabicki original enameled belt buckle. Best of Show tonight went to Say Whut (Ashley Moyer) with her inventive beatboxing accompanied on upright bass by the musically astute Dani the Harp. The man is tight. Always.
HIT BY A BUS, the BLUE HORNETS, SHOT BY THE BREEZE Launchpad
SHOULDER VOICES, YA YA BOOM Burt’s
Shot By The Breeze was okay with horns, keys and congas but nothing I’d write home about since I never had any use for Sublime, their painfully obvious influence. I’m not much of a fan of reggae riddims to begin with except for early ska and rocksteady, before the Marleys of the world got all dreaded-out and ganja-simple. Tonight I enjoyed the Blue Hornets more. The set started out as if they were recorded on the Stax label with a rocksteady flavor back when this was dance music and not political statement. But by now I had my reggae quotient for the night and was impatiently waiting to see the next band that I’d thought were up first.
For no good reason its taken me over half a decade to see Hit By A Bus and this was likely their last show for quite a while if not forever. While most of HBAB is not my style, I’ve been sold on the song Fil since I first heard it via their finely produced video a few years back. Hard but with melody, inventive changes, defiant fist pumping lyrics and a rock-the-fuck-out chorus, it’s one of my favorite single songs to come out of the local scene in years. Singer Gio belts out a killer delivery with great dueling vocals by guitarist Jon, climaxing in a barely-controlled aneurism-inducing screamfest. Sadly for me they didn’t play it tonight but concentrated on the moshable songs most enthusiastically appreciated by the all-ages crowd. Next time Hit By A Bus plays (if they do) I’ll be there front and center, yelling for Fil.
Next I booked over to Burt’s for Shoulder Voices. I have to admit the first time I heard them awhile back I was at a loss. It seemed without direction and frankly kinda messy but although the lineup changes without warning, Little Bobby (ex Unit 7 Drain) is leading what promises to be an amazing ensemble of psych madness where anything can and will happen. Stay tuned.
I didn’t make it for all of Ya Ya Boom. This is another band that has gone far in a few years from ok to dynamic and vibrant. The DeMarco sisters pack more talent between them than many other bands do in their entirety.
FALKO STEINBACH PIANO STUDIO RECITAL II
11/19/09 Keller Hall, UNM
Pardon me, my ignorance is showing. That’s nothing new but besides my favorite piano players -- “the Killer” Jerry Lee Lewis; perennial ‘60s-70s sessionman Nicky Hopkins; 1940s Boogie Woogie king Freddie Slack; juke-joint cigar-chompin’ Piano Red (none of whom prepared me for tonight’s event)--what the hell do I know about the ivories?
I’m familiar with classical music through old movies: the Little Rascals (Alfalfa singing Barber of Seville in 1938 ) or
that 1943 Warner Brothers cartoon with the swans that introduced kids to the Blue Danube Waltz : A Corny Concerto with Elmer Fudd as the disheveled maestro.
What was played by a dozen or so students tonight was way over my pointed little head. In any case it was neat to open my guitar-string strangled heart to something else for a change. My reason for attending was to hear (RIP) Unit 7 Drain’s own Chris Newman and Ya Ya Boom’s Monica DeMarco outside of nasty bars. Speaking of which, I kept looking around for the cocktail waitress. In the seat next to mine, Gena assured me that my search was in vain. C’est dommage!
As each piece demanded, baby grands were wheeled to and fro onstage by guys who looked nothing like beer-bellied grizzled rock roadies. I’m assuming there wasn’t much sex or drugs backstage either but one never knows. Some of the pieces were straightforward, others more complex although none were what you’d call easy. The pianists just made it look that way. The students picked their own pieces which is cooler than performing some random assignment. Testing their own chops, I’d imagine. During the recital I mused if it’s more difficult to play long involved pieces or shorter more intricate ones with varying intervals and timing where moments of stillness are as important as the playing itself. Other than that pithy observation, I have nothing intelligent to say.
Philistine that I am I was idiotically delighted to hear Valse Caprice "Sobre las Olas", Op.14, a song that’s been used as a background music for nearly every scene of tightrope walkers, jugglers, trapeze artists and sleights-of-hand in the movies since sound-on-film was invented. With a reference like that, I’m right back where I started.
PAPER BIRD, BLUE ROSE RAMBLERS
11/16/09 Low Spirits
This was opening night of a new venue started by a guy who’s been promoting local music longer than many of his patrons have been alive: Joe Anderson, owner of the Launchpad, Sunshine Theater promoter and now proprietor of Low Spirits, the first non-downtown music club of consequence in years. The man’s unstoppable. I think he sleeps on occasion.
A bunch of tangled red-tape delayed the liquor license but the grand opening went ahead anyway compelling a few wags to call the place No Spirits.
The atmosphere is…cool… blue. Low lights, low stage-- one could imagine Miles & Dizzy bebopping here in the ‘50s. Or the Dead Boys egging on a crowd of punks as Stiv Bators falls off the stage. Or a quieter venue for rootsy Americana type stuff which is Anderson’s aim. The stage is big and wide open with a large dance floor. The tables and stools are tall which shows Joe has a lot of faith in his clientele not to be falling that far to the floor after a long night of imbibing.
My favorite patron tonight was Max. He’s about three feet high and was enjoying the music as much as anyone. While his folks kept an eye on him Max kept wandering up to the stage in wide-eyed wonder at the people onstage.
Those people were Bud & Jessica, the Blue Rose Ramblers playing banjo & fiddle featuring sweet acoustic tunes with a touch of swing that were long ago discarded but are worthy of remembrance. Everyone thinks of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys as inventors of Western Swing and they’re partly correct. Wills however took a tradition of rural sawyers who had already begun to mix things up with the newly emerging big band swing that was a sort of pop answer to the earlier Hot Jass (jazz). This --later known as Dixeland--was pioneered in New Orleans by the great trumpet virtuoso Louis Armstrong from blues, ragtime, brass band marches and French quadrilles. Sure it’s a far cry from “Satchel Mouth” Armstrong to the Blue Rose Ramblers but you’ll never shut me up from pointing out musical lineages. It’s all related, from stone age tribal rhythms to Stephen Foster to
Blind Lemon Jefferson to Irving Berlin to Lennon/ McCartney to Johnny Rotten and sadly even oafs like Kid Rock or the anemic Kenny G .
My favorite Blue Rose number tonight was All Of Me, that 1930’s chestnut performed by just about everyone: Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, even freakin’ NOFX. One of the most recorded songs ever, it stands the test of time.
From Colorado, Paper Bird is a seven-piece band that boasts three female singers, banjo, guitar, stand-up bass (plucked & bowed) and trombone. They were more than competent but not much grabbed me. As much as I love brass in soul, R&B and funk (and of course big band swing) inserting trombones and tubas in folky stuff doesn’t move me a bit. In truth, I quietly abhor it but plenty of the waffle-stomper/flannel shirt/peasant dress-wearing folks in the crowd ate it up. Paper Bird was however a good act to bring these kinda folks into the place, folks who ordinarily wouldn’t set foot in the downtown scene.
Overall Paper Bird were pretty darn wholesome, like a twangy Madrigal choir fronted by Kate & Anna McGarrigle and produced by the Roches. Nice an’ all but a bit too much so. They made me wanna go chain smoke, eat red meat and swill cheap whiskey out of a half-pint bottle.
My only complaint about this new venue has nothing to do with the place and can’t be helped but the newly-revived Itsa Italian Ice across the street doesn’t keep concurrent hours. Handmade burgers, chile cheese fries and Nathans dogs would go down well after bar time.
Low Spirits is a welcome addition to our music scene and I only hope the notoriously sobriety-minded people attracted to the kind of music featured here will lighten up and take a drink or three. Not that I want anyone to turn into lushes or anything but there’s no way around it: music clubs need alcohol sales to stay in business. Best of luck to the place and sincere thanks to Joe Spirits for taking on yet another liability to keep us music geeks satiated.
GRAVE OF NOBODY’S DARLING, LOUSY ROBOT
Tonight’s show was snapping an’ popping all over the place. Lousy Robot was punchy and tight, accentuated by the big Launchpad sound. Grave of Nobody’s Darling were amped to almost rockn’roll status: Cliff’s extra-fuzzy bass sounded like there was a judicious layer of Vaseline smeared on the speaker cones and Bud’s nonpareil pedal steel slide work echoed as if he was playing the Sistine Chapel. I have nothing else to say since I decided to just listen instead of trying to think of new and clever (ha!) ways to write about this show.
DUKE CITY DARLIN’S CALENDAR RELEASE
Its getting tough to keep track of all the charity calendar gigs here these days. There’s the original NM Rocks Pin Up (grrrl musicians), Babes & Bullies (scantily clad dames and pit bulls? the appeal of that combo escapes me) and now Duke City Darlin’s (body mod babes). But each calendar is always worth an annual show with contrasting bands.
Le Chat Lunatique: these gypsy swingsters do a hell of a lot with violin, bass, guitar and drums, all with a playful Ochi Chornya feel (that ubiquitous Russian folk song everyone’s familiar with whether they know it or not). Gershwin’s 1935 Summertime is another number done by everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Doc Watson to Janis Joplin, with nary a clinker among the zillion versions. Le Chat’s is no exception to that rule.
Ambryzette is a little rawk, a little metal and a little emo-melodic, none of which entices me. Linkin Park with a wee taste of Foo Fighters maybe? Sorry, guys, I pass.
The Parkinsons are also a bit rock, a bit metal and a bit melodic but have a good recipe, seasoned to taste. I’ve nothing but respect for everything Mr Chuck Jurich (bass) has done over the past decade and a half (musically and then some) and this is no exception. Joined by Mike Rupert on rippin’ guitar and my man King Dogg on drums, the music and lyrics are intelligent and erudite. To quote the band, the Parkinsons play “music to make you shake”.
Sin Serenade: what’s not to love? Stylin’ standup bass throttled into submission by Mistress Antonia, never-a-wrong-move drumming by Mr Ben Hathorne, and Lucky Donohue’s grimy vocals and filthy, filthy guitar. Garage twang in all its glory.
Pan!c always brings shits-n’- giggles pop punk pathology with lots of infectious fun, no intramuscular vaccine needed. Or wanted. Your leukocytes don’t stand a chance anyway. Tonight’s set was contagious without debilitating deterioration or loss of vestibular anatomy but included plenty of lush cardiovascular palpitations. Be still my heart.
Speaking of heart, the Five Star Motelles won mine yet again although I’d gladly hand it to them gratis for reviving the old Girl Group repertoire. Producers like Phil Spector, Shadow Morton and Leiber & Stoller embellished the originals with symphonic layers of voices, instruments and sound effects. This meant the Ronettes or Shangri-La’s or the Dixie Cups onstage never had a live band but sang along to the instrumental track. In the Motelles’ capable hands (and voices) the heart & foundation -- the lyrics and melody--is front and center. It’s a testament to the writers that their songs still shine even without the typical twenty or so studio musicians of the original sessions.
I can’t wait to hear the Motelles on 45 rpm black 7” vinyl. Not that I’ve heard they’re planning on this but it sounds like a great idea to me. Although he doesn’t carry handguns into the studio like Spector (at least not as far as I’m aware), I vote for our local mad genius Raven Chacon as producer.
MILCH de MAQUINA
Alternately sparse and dense, melodic and atonal, accessible and making you work for it, Milch de Maquina is part musicality, part performance art. Rosina Roibal on viola and Monica Demarco on cello provide a spare but concentrated base on which Marisa DeMarco adds well-placed bass note by note, while Gena Lawson layers on drones, noises, keyboards and electro angst. All the women vocalize at one point or another, either in song or La Llorona type wails.
Mid-set, an old desktop printer was placed before the stage and then spectacularly destroyed with eggs and hammers wielded by Rosina. Soon she donned a long flowing wing-like cape, feathery headdress and a pair of ocular loudspeaker cones with the final effect of looking like a Kwakiutl gwa'wina (raven) as she was attended offstage and through the crowd by the rest of the band, holding her train aloft. What does it all mean? I’m not that deep to even ponder answering but it was impressive all the same.
25 YEARS of STACY PARRISH
1/13/10 Low Spirits
I was barely getting out to local shows about the time Stacy Parrish was winding down his performing career in Albuquerque (notably January’s Little Joke) so when he was joined tonight by a bunch of former bandmates & cohorts I hadn’t much of a frame of reference except to enjoy the musicianship of his pals: Ben Hathorne, Joe Anderson, Ryan Martino, Don Mickey, Steve Crider, Shannon Whitehead, Daniel Prevett, Rob Brothers, Carlos Cordova, Steve Cordova, Mikey Wright and my pal Maria J. Hicks.
I only know a few of these people and what they did/do but if Parrish (who’s recorded/produced locals Venus Diablo, Wagogo, Strawberry Zots, Eric McFadden, Alien Lovestock, Naomi, Stoic Frame and Jenny Clinkscales and as well as working with T-Bone Burnett, Neko Case and Hot Tuna among many others) asked these folks to join him onstage, it ought to be worth hearing. Which it was. Lots of well written songs in many styles with good solid playing in sort of an Old Home Week setting for those who were around in those days.
Gotta admit I was enticed out tonight mostly to see my pal Maria on keyboard and lissom vocals behind Parrish, with Ben Hathorne playing a lovely sunburst hollowbody Epiphone. Maria & Ben have some tunes in the works themselves and I’m impatiently waiting to see them debut as a duo. Impatiently I said.
the SCRAMS, PAN!C
1/16/10 Mecca Records & Books
Its been awhile since Rocky de la Mecca hosted an in-store at his shop and this one was most welcome. There’s not many nearby neighbors out there on the edge of civilization at Central and 14th but stacks of hoary volumes make for good sound baffles. Since my wallet has a king size hole in it where the record budget used to be I had to avoid the front room that’s packed full of dusty vinyl at bargain prices.
The pop-heaven Giranimals were slated for this show but an injury to Maury’s hand slapped him out of the running. Nevermind that Massachusetts 1960s one-hit-wonders the Barbarians’ drummer Moulty played with one stick gripped in the hook that replaced the hand he lost in a childhood accident: Maury and Connie are superhuman, what with raising a brood of kids reaching biblical proportions and still managing to rock, hold jobs and pay the mortgage. So they were excused with a doctor’s note.
Pop punk purveyors of pulchritude Pan!c were recruited at the metaphorical eleventh hour. Despite rarely being sighted in broad and undrunken daylight --that was soon remedied by the way-- the trio treated us to a happy/sad/ happy/sad set. Naw, they haven’t gone emo. Far from it: there’s still crotchkickin’ aplenty. No, this was the penultimate Pan!c show before Rachel-Rachel and Porter Draw Vince move lock, stock & Pabst Blue barrel to their new Rocky Mountain High home in Denver Colorado. I’m all tristé already.
Next, the put-another-dime-in-the-jukebox-baby Scrams slammed out a sloppy serving of fast, furious and fucked-up garage trash n’ roll, the likes of which haven’t been heard in these parts since the dim ‘burque past when the Drags roamed the earth. I was in hip swivel head-bobbing lo-fi heaven since it was the first time I’d managed to see them alive and kicking. I’ve just about worn out the grooves of their Farfisa-driven debut 7” down to nothing so it was high time to witness the aural destruction in the flesh. As much as I love(d) Los Drags, their ‘tude was oftimes hipper than thou but Los Scrams are just as much goofball nerds as you or me. Maybe more.
the FIVE STAR MOTELLES, the DIRTY NOVELS, the SCRAMS
1/22/10 Voodoo Scooters
After all the indie crud, the emo whine and the silly metal, rock and roll is back in the ‘burque. With a bullet.
A free all-ages show on Central? Indiscreet beer? Music with melody and fuzzy guitars? And you can dance to it? I’m in love with the local scene all over again. Voodoo Scooters hosted the best show of the year and yeah so what if we’re only twenty-two days into 2010 it can’t get any better for me.
The Scrams opened with the best new distort-o trash rock in many a year. I love these guys.
Next, stripped down to a sleek but raunchy trio, the Dirty Novels ripped out a slammin’ set. I haven’t seen them in forever but this line-up was worth the wait. This was the best lo-fi set they’ve played in like forever. I managed to forget the new drummer’s name already but with simple but heavy tom action and constant rolling & filling, the guy’s alright. Brian’s leads were as tasty as something so raunchy can be. Pablo’s dirty rhythm & vox topped it off, spilling over like a too long draw on a fully pumped keg. Bass guitar wasn’t even missed.
I could go on and on about the Five Star Motelles (and often do) because I’ve been a sucker for girl singers since I first heard Dusty Springfield’s I Only Want To Be With You at the tender age of five when my big brother came home with the 45. Besides covering all the old stuff, the Motelles’ cover of Iggy Pop’s 1977 Passenger is a welcome and inspired update.
Their originals -- although few in number to date -- are right on par. I expect more of the same caliber soon.
But please don’t call any of the girl group stuff doo-wop ‘cause it really isn’t. Culturally, every decade’s pop sensibilities take a few years to completely slough off the previous ten year’s worth. The girl groups were no exception with a few shang-a-lang’s and shoo-be-doobie-doo’s but for authentic doo wop (that originated as vocals only on the black & Puerto Rican street corners of Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens), check out the 1950s’ Penguins, Five Satins or Del Vikings.
the PORTER DRAW Launchpad
Say it ain’t so! We wish Rach & Vince well on their move to Denver an’ all but politeness notwithstanding, a few of us had lengths of hawser-laid nautical rope and an emptied car trunk waiting but the pair managed to slip from our oily grasp.
Tonight was Vince’s last stand on bass as the Porter Draw played to one of their most packed houses yet. As much as I love drummerless bluegrass/twang, the solid beats of newly added Noelan Ramirez are something for non-twang aficionados to grab a hold of as they dance like fiends.
This was possibly the last ever Pan!c show. We’re trying to convince Eva to carry on some way somehow but that gal’s got a mighty hard head. Even so she was a little tristé tonight as Pan!c rocked through farewell tears. Rachel was more smiley than the rest and who could blame her? She’s spent all of her tender years in the ‘burque and everyone needs a change. So, vaya con dios, Raquelita!
Come visit. Or We’ll bring Albuquerque to you if we have to. En fuckin’ masse.
the FIVE STAR MOTELLES, YA YA BOOM, the GRACCHI
I remember when Mateo (ex- Dead On Point Five) asked for beer and not gum onstage. But things gotta change sometimes. Too bad the sound tonight for his bass and rest of the Gracchi changed for the worse. No, it wasn’t the band’s fault. The soundguy was copping an attitude or something. The always killer Gracchi doesn’t play out much these days so this was a capital offense if you ask me. Way too loud, unevenly mixed and so distorted it was like week old dishwater with tom beats. I couldn’t even tell what song they were playing until I heard the inklings of a chorus. I finally gave up and went outside until the set was over. Boo.
Ya Ya Boom fared better in the sound department but a lot was lost from finely crafted work and stellar vocals. Still it was tolerable especially with their standout bass sound.
Finally by the time the Five Star Motelles were up the sound was cleaned and mixed pretty much right where the music demanded. Good thing because Gio finally got more mic action tonight and I would’ve taken the sound guy out if he had fucked that up.
This was the Lousy Robot methamphetamine set, played in half the time it would normally take to play twice as many songs. To get into the spirit I drank twice as fast which meant it was time to go home in about twenty minutes. It doesn’t get much better than Lousy Robot so that was just fine with me.
3/15/10 Warehouse 508
How long has the city sanctioned all-ages Warehouse 508 been in existence? I can’t recall but too long for me not to have gotten my over-ages butt there. How did I hear about Miss Derringer? I don’t recall that either but after searching up some tube vids I was impressed enough to make me wanna go.
Far be it from me to condone the shittier behavior associated with some all-ages spots (broken beer bottles in parking lots, pissing on the neighbor’s lawn, etc) but I’ve always preferred underground showspaces with a bit more unruliness. Which eventually gets our best all -(r)ages joints such as Insurgo shut down. Still, places like Warehouse 508 serve a purpose not least of which is letting The Authorities think they have a handle on “the kids” and maybe help to throw the cops off the trail of -- oh I don’t know--midnight hit and run noise gigs on unsanctioned rooftops.
The kids tonight were ones that rarely make it to spaces like the name-chameleon Onekind space. This is partly because the “punk” kids that I saw crawling all over 508 are more plugged into Warped Tour rubbish than, say, watching Allen George Ledergerber garrote his bass and produce squalls of feedback while stripped to his underwear.
I’m not putting the kids down mind you. I certainly wasn’t ready for that kind of mayhem when I was thirteen either. So I took it all as an anthropological study and had to smile when I overheard a few teen boys with carefully spiked green hair wearing carefully riveted leather jackets and various colors of carefully worn-out Chuck Taylors talking angrily about some classmate who thought Green Day sucked.
I showed up at 508 at the ungodly hour of 8pm since no one on the phone seemed to know the exact line-up order. I struggled through a couple of bands whose names I can’t recall and whose music I don’t want to. One was sort of punkabilly and one god-knows-what indie alternative emo barf-o waste of time.
From LA, Miss Derringer refer to themselves as rockabilly country gothic something or another. I don’t agree that singing about hangings and last call bar-room desperation makes one goth but I get the drift. Despite some of the musically upbeat numbers, their overall message is broken hearts, broken bottles and broken necks. As for rockabilly, there’s a few apparent influences but Miss derringer fits into that category as well as Calexico fits a Mariachi tag. It’s much more downbeat and ultimately much more satisfying to me ‘cause I’d much rather listen to old Janis Martin records or purists (in the best possible sense) like our own Long Gone Trio than bands who play formulaic uninspired “billy”.
I’m in love Miss derringer’s stuff : the dark and twangy I’m-no-good-for-you Better Run Away From Me and the you-did-me-wrong-now-its-your-turn-you-fucker Click Click Bang Bang.
Their latest CD Winter Hill is more slickly produced than the previous two and that’s not a bad thing. The first two --King James and a Colt 45 and Lullabies -- are well played and well written, nicely low-key but Winter Hill will catch ears that might not bother with the others.
Their videos play up the badass sex kitten/bad- boy band angle but I was happy that when I briefly met singer Liz McGrath and her husband songwriter/guitarist Morgan Slade, they were as nice as pie. The place was full of fifteen year olds after all but it was more than that. The pair were genuinely nice people. When I ventured that I would prefer hearing Miss Derringer in a crummy bar, Slade replied that the band likes the all-ages gigs too. Point taken but I hope next time they visit us they can be booked into a dank and cozy dive.
McGrath garners comparisons to Debbie Harry for sweetness of voice and fashion model looks. Her stage ensembles resemble Harry’s in the short lived pre-Blondie band the Stilettos crossed with a razor toting drum majorette. The shinier songs bring to mind Blondie’s dreampop tracks from the 1979 album Eat To the Beat but on the slow sinister numbers McGrath’s voice and delivery reminds of the smoky vocals and callous attitude of the Divinyls’ Christina Amphlett.
McGrath is also subject to misconceptions akin to those Harry suffered early on with Blondie but make no mistake. Miss Derringer is a band, not the lead singer. From ‘60s girl group sounds to high desert surf riffs the band wears their influences on western shirt sleeves, backing McGrath like champs. Miss Derringer recently supported the over-rated Reverend Horton Heat on tour and in my opinion leave the Rev in the dust with better and more varied songwriting chops. And hooks. Lots of great great hooks.
Miss Derringer is my new favorite band that’s not from Albuquerque, a rare and wondrous thing from my tunnel-vision provincial outlook.
the SCRAMS [s/t 7” 2009]
self released http://scram.muxtape.com/
Four reasons why you should own this slab:
One: While cities like Detroit and London are still hip enough to be home to garage trash bands, Albuquerque has been lacking for over a decade. I mean, even Tucson is home to the swingin’ Okmoniks. What the hell is wrong with us?!
Two: It only costs five bucks.
Three: Its seven inch vinyl with sleeve graphix as lo-fi as their killer sound.
Four: It fuckin’ rips.