released Mar 30th, 2010

from the album - Jail La La

YouTube - Dum Dum Girls - Jail La La

from all music

Emerging at a time when C-86-inspired acts like the Vivian Girls and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart were in vogue, it’s little wonder California’s Dum Dum Girls – an all-girl group whose '60s-inflected lo-fi pop brings to mind acts like Black Tambourine and Dolly Mixture — became something of a sensation on the indie circuit soon after the release of their first single. In 2008, lead singer Kirstin Gundred (aka Dee Dee) began making solo recordings as Dum Dum Girls, deriving the name both from the Vaselines’ album Dum-Dum and from the Iggy Pop song “Dum Dum Boys.” Over the course of the next year, Dee Dee saw the release of a couple singles (a 7"single on Hozac, a four-way split single on Art Fag), a 12" EP (Yours Alone, released via Captured Tracks), and a compilation disc appearance (on Art Fag’s Blissed Out cassette comp). In 2009, Dee Dee teamed up with guitarist Jules, bassist Bambi, and drummer Frankie Rose (formerly of likeminded groups Crystal Stilts and the Vivian Girls), and the newly fleshed-out band was signed to Sub Pop Records that summer. Dum Dum Girls’ first single on that label, Jail La La, was released in early 2010; their debut album, I Will Be, came out soon after. Both releases were produced by Richard Gottehrer, who had formerly produced albums by the Go-Go's and Blondie.

album review

Dum Dum Girls began with Dee Dee (no last name provided) recording short, noisy tracks in her bedroom. These lo-fi recordings (as heard on a self-released CD-R, a single on Hozac, and a 12” on Captured Tracks) blended girl group melodies with Jesus and Mary Chain noise, Ramones-simple tunes with Dee Dee’s darkly sweet vocals, and came up with a sound deeply indebted to the past but also very much its own. For Dum Dum Girls' first album, I Will Be, Dee Dee recorded the tracks herself but then sent them to famed producer Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, the Go-Go's) to produce. Anyone expecting/fearing a glossy product to be the result will be glad to know that barely any noise or hiss has been sacrificed. The sound on I Will Be is just as gritty and cheap-sounding as Dee Dee’s bedroom recordings; the only differences are that the music is given a little more air to breathe with slightly more air between the instruments, and Dee Dee’s vocals are more up-front. The songs show no drop-off from her early recordings; the ten self-penned songs are just as catchy as anything she’s done. A couple could even be radio hits — if the world of radio were suddenly turned upside-down and super hooky noise pop songs about jail ("Jail La La") and drugs ("Bhang Bhang, I’m a Burnout") were getting steady airplay. Mixed in with the uptempo sunny rockers that make up the bulk of the record are a couple of nice ballads that demonstrate Dum Dum Girls' range a little. The best of them is the lovely cover of the Sonny & Cher gem "Baby Don’t Go," but the song "Blank Girl," which Dee Dee sings with her husband Brandon (of Crocodiles), isn’t far behind. The only possible flaw of the album is that the songs all sound the same. The drum machine, the guitars, the vocals, and even the song structures don’t vary much; Gottehrer’s production didn’t really address that issue. Luckily, the album rushes by so quickly and the basic sonic template is so good that it never really becomes an issue. For the next album, it will be nice to hear Dee Dee incorporate the bandmates she joined up with after the recording of I Will Be, but here the limited sonic palette works just fine. The record isn’t a complete knockout, but it’s a nice consolidation of the Dum Dum Girls sound to date and a fine starting point in what could be a nice string of noise pop records.

Track Listing

1 It Only Takes One Night Dee 2:02
2 Bhang Bhang, I'm a Burnout Dee 2:33
3 Oh Mein M Dee 2:11
4 Jail La La Dee 2:30
5 Rest of Our Lives Dee 3:01
6 Yours Alone Dee 2:16
7 Blank Girl Dee 2:53
8 I Will Be Dee 2:06
9 Lines Her Eyes Dee 2:24
10 Everybody's Out Dee 2:58
11 Baby Don't Go Bono 3:50