Band of the Day

2011.10.22

Dum Dum Girls

60s pop put through an ecstatically dirty rock n' roll filter
I take as much as I can get, I don't take any regret, I close my eyes to conjure up something, but it's just a faint taste in my mouth.
lyrics from Coming Down

Taking their name from the Iggy Pop song "Dum Dum Boys" and the Vaseline's Dum Dum album, the Dum Dum Girls are a noise pop band that formed in Los Angeles, California in 2006. Initially a solo recording project of Kristin "Dee Dee" Gundred, a live band was recruited in 2009 after signing to Sub Pop Records.The group consists of Dee Dee on vocals and guitar, Jules on lead guitar, Bambi on bass and Sandy, the group's latest addition, on drums. In 2010, the group's debut LP, entitled I Will Be, was released to the support of a headlining tour. With the help of co-producers Richard Gottehrer (producer of Blondie and the Go-Go's) and Raveonettes singer Sune Rose Wagner, Dum Dum Girls recorded their 2011 EP He Gets Me High at Pink Duck Studios (Josh Homme's studio). Their sophomore LP Only In Dreams, also produced by Gottehrer and Wagner, was released in September 2011.

Los Angeles has always been known for its beach music. From the Beach Boys to Best Coast, sunny surf rock is as much a part of LA as taco trucks and celebrities. LA's Dum Dum Girls share this love for sandy vibes, but there are storm clouds rolling over their volleyball courts, and these darker elements ensure their songs are complex and interesting. Fronted by Kristin Gundred who goes by the stage name “Dee Dee,” Dum Dum Girls are notably less lo-fi then a lot of other surf rock being made at the moment. Their just released full-length Only In Dreams was produced by veteran Richard Gottehrer, who also produced Blondie and the Go-Go's among many others, the sounds of those classic 80s rockers pokes through here. Underneath the happily jangling guitars of “Bedroom Eyes,” Dee Dee sounds very much like Pretender's Chrissie Hynde as she belts out hooky note after note. “I fear I'll never sleep again” she sings downheartedly in contrast to the upbeat verse. “Just a Creep” is pure surf-pop fun complete with 60s style handclaps and super-twangy lead guitar. While Dum Dum Girls clearly pull off surfy fun, the album's most accomplished moment is the glum “Coming Down,” a track Dee Dee wrote shortly after her mother's passing, an event that defines many songs on the album. “Coming Down” plods along mixing the darkly ringing guitars of Jesus and Mary Chain with the vocal grandeur of Neko Case. The result is a beautifully layered and lush song that expresses grief without dwelling in its sadness. Dum Dum Girls understand how to write a great pop song: they've got their harmonies, energy, and melodies down, and truly sound like a band, tight and dynamic. But it's Dee Dee that sets them apart. Just as Hynde turned Pretenders from a fine band into a great one, Dee Dee's charisma, lyrical prowess and voice help make the Dum Dum Girls special.