Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Dum Dum Girls / A Grave With No Name at The Lexington 26 February 2010

Dum Dum Girls

It’s a tempting offer. “Come upstairs, we’re playing Neu!” Ok, we were going to the gig anyway, but it’s nice to see some enthusiasm from the promoters.

Once we are in the cooler, quieter room above, the gentle rhythms of classic Krautrock tick along pleasurably and we await the first band.

Who are A Grave With No Name. And not A Place To Bury Strangers or anything similar to that, no sir.

Their signature sound is a fuzzed up rock, and the heavily treated vocals of guitarist Alex Shields. Fed through various bits of equipment his voice becomes high and ethereal, a ghost that struggles to be heard above their machine.
I like their drummer, a guy so cool that he barely moves, sitting almost motionless, sparsely tapping away. This turns out not to the normal state of affairs, as he is a stand-in, the usual sticksman having broken his hand. So it may be happenstance, but the new guy fits in very well.
If the band have a fault at all, it is that their songs tend to extreme brevity and nearly all shudder to a conclusion just as they seem about to get going. Again, it is hard to tell whether this is deliberate or dictated by circumstances. So a qualified thumbs up from this judge.

Next up come Dum Dum Girls, a striking four piece led by Kristin Gundred, aka Dee Dee. Theirs is a very mannered and studied sound, and once more relies upon the manipulation of the human voice.

The girls play a doomy, twangy, Fifties style garage rock, accompanied by strong three part harmonies. The twist is that everything is so distorted that the sound produced is eerie and echoing, giving an impression of great distance and loneliness. It‘s the sound of The Crystals, lost and desolate in the Mojave desert.

The bass guitar is almost all you can hear, as other instruments are reduced to a thin and ghostly wash of noise.

Dee Dee sings sorrowfully, her eyes fixed on some distant point, her heart apparently breaking. Tracks such “Jail La La” and “Catholicked” drift past. It’s a fascinating performance, and one that is over far too soon.

It’s been a weird evening, full of phantoms and longing and the distance between souls. As the last note falls to a whisper, I head off into the dark.

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