Friday, October 02, 2009

What do the Dagons think?

Last week I bought the Vivian Girls' latest album Everything Goes Wrong. I've read a lot about them, and they even came to the Warhol Museum a few weeks prior. (I missed the show.) Before buying the album, the one song I heard by them online sounded pretty raw and a little noisy, not exactly Blonde Redhead or Deerhoof, but within shouting distance of either of those bands.

The new album is pretty straightforward. Compared to what I expected, it's really straightforward. The sound pretty garage-y and simple: a lot of barre chords drenched in echo with sleepy vocals on top. Guitar solos consist of one string played really quickly.

And they sound almost exactly like the Dagons - a female-fronted band from San Francisco that's been around for about 10 years now. I discovered them when I was putting out my fanzine Discourse in the '90s. They sent me a 7" and kept me on their mailing list from then on. It was the kind of music that was basic, in terms of riffs, but how they executed it made all the difference. Karie Jacobson had a great voice that was like the Shangri-Las on a major "Past Present Future" bender. Or Courtney Love if she calmed the hell down. The music had some serious weight to it. Similar in spirit to Scrawl, who wrote the book on less being more.

As far as I know, the Dagons aren't too well known on a national level (unless you count guys like me who've tracked their history). But they ought to be. So it kind of detracted from the first half of the Vivian Girls album that they have been one of the biggest indie buzz bands for the past 18 months or so when what they do is... fun and good, but not exactly innovative. The preview for their show in a local weekly seemed almost apologetically positive about them, as if to say, "Yeah there's nothing great about them, but they do this simple thing really well." It also pondered why they've gotten so much attention. I'll tell you why: they have good publicists. I get a a lot of emails about them.

Anyhow, by the time I got to the end of the CD, I did like it. It is pretty good and there's a good chance I'll play it more often. But I do wonder whether the Dagons resent them, dig them or don't care.

No comments: