WVAU Top Music of 2011: #9

Leo Zausen, Louise Brask

#9 Album: Dum Dum Girls – Only In Dreams

Churning out beach-washed riot girl anthems, the Dum Dum Girls have given 2011 Only In Dreams, an album that isn’t afraid to express innermost female laments while simultaneously becoming a gut-punching rock gem. Taking you in a whirlwind of garage rock melodies, Dum Dum Girls make girl groups thrilling, intriguing and downright sexy again. The album itself takes the listener deeper than just their allure into their glossy world of girl bands, without sappily drowning you in drama.

The brute female energy from the album should be attributed to Dee Dee, the band’s lead singer whose voice trembles over the lesser vocals and instrumentals. Jules, Bambi, and Sandy complement Dee Dee’s driving force as a backup singers, softening the edges of the album, creating echoes, and giving the Dum Dum Girls the pop charm that critics often compare to that of 60’s girl groups like The Supremes.

Dee Dee recently was quoted voicing her dislike for being referenced as a “retro pop act.” In an LA times blog she corrects. “I think that‰’s crap. All music borrows and is influenced by what has come before it. It‰’s how you put your own spin on it that marks progression. That‰’s something I think about all the time. That‰’s why I‰’ve made such a point to have each release demonstrate a progression.‰Û

It may be difficult for the group to separate themselves from music created in the past, and pose themselves as a single group promoting a new sound. Only In Dreams isn’t a perfect album, because the group has room to expand in new directions. But Only In Dreams is still a significant release from an emerging act this year. Songs like “Coming Down” and “Bedroom Eyes” significantly grabbed my attention and were successful in driving the band away from the female girl group stereotypes. I hope the Dum Dum Girls follow that stream of thought they’ve shown in “Coming Down” and “Bedroom Eyes” and brew us something similar to those tracks in the future.

By Louise Brask

#9 Song: Yuck – “The Wall”

In an album full of innovative twists on a genre far imitated, it‰’s hard to select one song that is the best. Yuck‰’s musical desire for reviving a category made known by Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. (the influence is obvious) has been defined as derivative and stale, but this album is a beautiful break in the progressive trends.

“The Wall‰” is debatably the best song from Yuck, and potentially one of the best of the year. It starts out slow, like most other songs on the album, but peaks about halfway through and erupts into a lyrical intensity. By the time that the lyric “It‰’s just the way that I feel‰” is sang over and over, the repetition has become so ingrained in the listener’s mind that it’s easy to forget that that “The Wall‰” is just a repetitive concept of merely three lines. Although there are very few variations in lyrics, the strength and passion behind the lyrics and instruments amount to a truly creative experience.

From the beginning, “The Wall” stays fairly consistent. The transitions are subtle and smooth, and though Yuck’s sound is at times monotonous, the simplicity contrast the song’s heavy sonic alteration, which is synthesized with a metallic, distorted sound.

If an album appeared on your “top indie rock of 2011‰” list that was from the first half of the year, it was probably Yuck. The London based noise-rock group impressed many with their aged-sounding album with a twist. Although “The Wall‰” seems like it could end thirty seconds in, Yuck’s captivating yet blatantly simple approach is in no way a bad thing.

By Leo Zausen