On this week’s episode of “Always Catch the Opener": Dirty Beaches. I walked into the Empty Bottle Thursday night to catch the closing track from the Canadian solo artist (apparently a trend), to the pre-recorded melancholic piano of the only track I knew by him, "Lord Knows Best." Wish I would have caught the whole set of minimal blues, as it apparently also included a Johnny Cash cover. Guess I’ll have to wait until March 29th when he drops his debut LP, Badlands, to hear the rest of it.
Up next was Brooklyn six-piece Minks. The band seems to practice the too-cool-for-school look as much as they practice their Curesque hook-laced pop jams. Track titles like "Cemetery Rain" and "Funeral Song" prove ironic in their happy-its-a-rainy-day upbeat tempos that wouldn’t be out of place on a Go-Betweens album. As much as I dig their debut LP By the Hedge, the sound just doesn’t cut through as much live as I would have hoped. The synths didn’t stand out as much as on the album and the group adapts a sort of bored stage presence, throwing out occasional insincerely mumbled "thank you’s" in-between tracks. That said, the chorus to "Kusmi" has a great vocal hook that stands out above the layered synths and heavily reverbed guitar. Was in my head all night.
Admittedly, I was up in the air about Dum Dum Girls at first; a delayed start time and technical difficulties didn’t help. But the opening cover of the Stones’ "Play with Fire" helped sooth any doubt I had, with frontlady Dee Dee adapting one of the most feminine baritones I’ve ever heard. Despite the dreary goth-look the Girls outfit, the energy is high octane throughout as proven by "He Gets Me High" off the soon-to-be-released EP of the same name. And as the show continued, I realized I recognized more of their catalog than I originally thought. The hooks on the album came alive with their strong live set. DDG breathe new life into the too often stale three/four-part harmonies that fall flat on the more generic folk rock bands.
The ¾ romance of "Take Care of My Baby" can be considered a downer only if you allow it to; it was the most honest and heartfelt track of the night. Things picked back up with lead single "Jail La La" from last years I Will Be along with a new track they claimed was written the day of performance. Kudos to them if it was; those harmonies were spot on when they sang “teardrops on my pillow.” A very nice touch from Dee Dee to make sure not to forget their roots, giving a shoutout to Todd of Hozac Records for releasing their first single.
They closed out their set with "Rest of Our Lives," which was a bummer, considering I had heard they were supposed to play the whole new EP. Fortunately, rock show etiquette dictates (at least) one more song. The encore consisted solely of a Smiths cover. DDG’s take on "There is a Light That Never Goes Out" is brilliant; it’s worth getting the EP just for that when it’s released next week. I was quite a fan of their decision to bookend the show with covers, the oft forgot tradition of respecting your elders that so few musicians adhere to these days (maybe next time we'll get September Gurls?). Another forgotten tradition? Converting fans with a live show. You won me over, ladies.
Check out more show reviews:
Murder by Death at Subterranean
Justin Townes Earle at Metro
JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound at Metro
Free Energy at Double Door