Monday, December 13, 2010

Where Garage Girls come from

The raise of female fronted garage rock bands is great. Vivian Girls. Dum Dum Girls. Best Coast. Grass Widow. Girls at Dawn. Pens. Veronica Falls. Las Robertas. You may argue they kind of sound the same but if they would drop the reverberation imagine how great that would be. Sure, it might be exactly that what makes current garage rock (male voices are doing the same) garage rock but The Splinters don't use it and they sound genuine and absolutely great. What a band they are, the Splinters. Pure garage rock. But are the new generation garage rock bands, or lo-fi as they probably prefer, fronted by women something new and so 21st century? I'm sorry, but it's nothing new.

look familiar?Because, for instance in 1980, there were the Bangs. Not to be confused by the 90s band The Bangs, though in sound you'd love both. The 80s Bangs were three LA girls who shared their passion for 60s music. Beatles, Mamas & the Papas, Simon & Garfunkel (they would later in their career have a hit single with a cover), The Seed, The Byrds, the Randalls, these girls loved harmonies and they loved 60s garage. They released a fairly (underground) successful single 'Gettin' out of hand/Call on me' and were the darling of the Paisley Underground. They then did something the now generation garage rock bands don't - they got themselves a bassist. They rocked, they had fantastic voices which sang in harmonies and yes, they looked sexy too. If the Dum Dum Girls had been living at that time, they'd probably look and sound like the Bangs.

As the Bangs got more known, another band with the same name got aware and threatened to sue the girls. They renamed themselves and recorded a self-titled EP: The Bangles were born. Their debut EP was filled with 5 garage rock pearls and the future looked bright for the four, but not before firing their bassist and hiring a new one. With their new bassist they recorded a long player which was released in 1984, 'All over the place'. It sounded raw and sweet. The Paisley Underground was proud of their very own Fab Four as they were dubbed. The girls enjoyed their sweaty gigs and were giving their new bassist her very own moment, the Seeds 'Pushin' too hard'. It was a highlight of their shows.

Then something happened which might be typical for that time and probably wouldn't happen anymore, mainly because record labels will not spend their time and money into turning small bands into mainstream chart toppers. Record labels are not interested in that anymore. The Bangles were signed to a Big Label and damn you Prince for having an interest in the Paisley Underground and the Bangles.eye for marketingHe wrote them the power pop tune Manic Monday. Add a marketing campaign for Susanna Hoffs Big Brown Eyes and you have a more successful version of the Go-go's. The rest is history. The Bangles released 'Hazy shade of winter' an old-school Bangles version of the Simon and Garfunkel classic for the now cult movie 'Less than zero'. Also 'Everything', their 1988 album, featured heavier songs but also spawned their biggest hit 'Eternal Flame' which launched the band into a break up. The band had turned into a huge success but not the way the girls had wanted to, not to mention they agreed on.

But before all that, before it all was over, the Bangles were the pride and joy of the Paisley Underground, their jangle pop-folk-garage-rock with punkish hooks was a delight and it still is today. Whenever I hear the early Bangles stuff I sigh happily and wish reverberation was never invented. Sure, it gives a lo-fi 60s sound, but you can accomplish that without. Do it girls, I'm begging you!