Tuesday, 28 September 2010


Venue: XOYO, London.
Support: Mazes, Wild Palms
Words: Phil W.

"Bhang Bhang, I'm a Burnout" begs to be sung along to, "It Only Takes One Night" thumps along like a demented banshee with a hangover while "I Will Be" plays like the Latin-infused soundtrack to a Tarantino movie. The ballad "Baby Don't Go" pleads with your heartstrings but it’s the utterly beautiful "Rest of Our Lives" - a song written by band leader Dee Dee to her husband - that's really the stand out moment of the set. This is the sound of Los Angeles-based four piece girl band Dum Dum Girls, one of a host of bands leading America's new lo-fi scene across the Atlantic.

Perhaps it all started a couple of years ago with the brilliant Vivian Girls, brilliant and brief in every way. The Dum Dum Girls even share the same drummer in their live line-up. But on record, the Dum Dum Girls are only Dee Dee (aka Kristin Gundred) and a drum machine. In the same month Dee Dee's debut album "I Will Be" hit the UK shelf’s so did fellow California-based lo-fi act Best Coast with their debut album "Crazy For You" but in the age of the Macbook the lo-fi sound that infuses these records is more of an aesthetic of choice than a forced necessity due to the limited accessibility of technology or money. The Dum Dum Girls sound raw and noisy because that’s how Dee Dee wants it. She wants the album to sound like it was recorded on an eight track in the walk-in wardrobe full of tatty shoeboxes her mother is photographed standing in on the front cover of the LP. There's a selfconscious cool in these records, these bands care very deeply about appearing not to care from behind their impenetrable shades and their stories of Californian shores and half forgotten romances. There's a passion behind their basement recordings and carefully assembled pop songs, aside from the fact Dee Dee’s album probably was recorded in her back room and Best Coast probably did record their album live in a band member's basement - even if The Pixies “Come On Pilgrim” never sounded as under-produced as this.

Back in London's effortlessly cool new basement club XOYO, seemingly the perfect setting for a new generation of deep thinking slackers, the very noisy Mazes sound like Pavement meets Weezer and sum it all up with the line "I never wanna get out of bed, I never wanna do what you say". They may be a decade too late but they could also be a couple of years too early, because if this is coming back then that'd be awesome! Wild Palms brought in a host of influences from New Order to Arcade Fire and won me over in the end but then it was all about the Dum Dum Girls.

The Dum Dum Girls' set is short and tight, all four of them in black dresses and fishnets, gently rocking back and forth and looking distantly cool. Their songs are all over in under three minutes and sound like the Rolling Stones played on a buzz-saw with vocals lazily applied where needed, and I dug the vibe. Like I told Dee Dee after the show: "awesome show by the way!" "Thanks", she replied shyly from under her mop of jet black hair as she arranged a small stack of Sub Pop 7"s and cassette tapes.

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