When you got a chance to get some work done, and there’s an EP in the running, might as well keep moving… So here we go again.
Nominee #2 – He Gets Me High EP by Dum Dum Girls, Sub Pop Records
Easily one of my new favorite bands. There I go again, giving away the ending. I spend a great deal of my time at work looking at endcaps featuring new releases in little plastic cases. Last year, I found myself being stared back at by a woman on one of the covers of said new releases. Actually, last year (2010) seemed to be a big year for old photos of women staring out at you. (I’m talking to you, Vampire Weekend.) This time around, it was an album called I Will Be. Having been burned by the aforementioned Vampire Weekend (Who apes Paul Simon’s Graceland, for fuck’s sake? Yuck.) I thought little of the woman staring out from her closet.
A few months later, over at the vinyl side of our little retail jungle, I was hard pressed not to give an EP entitled He Gets Me High — with an admittedly gorgeous woman on the cover (who turned out to be the leader of the Dum Dum Girls, Dee Dee (Kristen Gundred)) and a cover of The Smiths’ “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” — a chance. I did a little research, and found that these (so-called) Dum Dum Girls were similar in style (a bit) to another band I had surprisingly fallen for, Best Coast. Only this time, the reverb-laden, girl-group, wall-of-sound(esque), west-coast buzz was a LOT less perky and worthy of videos featuring kittens. This was a tad darker, a bit more moody and brooding. Fucking perfect, if you know me at all…
The opener, “Wrong Feels Right,” is melodic, longing, dark, and all the rest in just about perfect order. “He Gets Me High,” on the other hand is muscular, brooding, and – at times – euphoric. Side B opens up with the much more vintage “Take Care of My Baby,” which – if done by any other band – would probably come off sounding maudlin or drippy. But Dee Dee and her cohorts make it sound so damned… I’m not one for the slow tune such as this, but this is regret, longing, and lost hope captured as it should be. It’s hard not to imagine one’s self in a cafe on a rainy day, staring off into space… wondering… hoping…
And then, there’s the Smiths tune. I’ve shied away from most covers of their songs, as I don’t really think anyone has managed to capture that sound like the original players. (Kirsty MacColl’s “You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby” comes damn close, but Johnny Marr is on the track!) This re-interpretation comes about as close to perfect as one can get. (I’ve used the word “perfect” a lot on this one, eh?) For a band from California, this sure sounds like England. Cold, rainy, northern England. Teen English angst and everything.
Score: 10 out of 10. Yup. Perfect. Have I said that already? Let’s not forget that this is an EP, and that means less chance for a dud track. But, truth be told, Dee Dee knows when enough is enough. It’s hard to argue with the notion that this band is seriously going places. (After this came out, I ended up getting my hands on everything available.)