Best tunes of 2011: #5 Dum Dum Girls “Bedroom eyes”

<< #6    |    #4 >>

Lots has changed for Kristin Gundred since 2011, when she released “Only in dreams”, her second full-length as leader of the group, Dum Dum Girls. At that time, she was performing under the name “Dee Dee” (not “Dee Dee Penny”, as many have erroneously reported, including myself) and she had just released an album with a full band that many critics were seeing as the start of something. However, we would unfortunately only see one other LP* released under the Dum Dum Girls name, 2014’s “Too true”, on which Gundred returned to recording by herself and moved ever so slightly away from the noisy, wall-of-sound washes and 60s girl group melodies. Afterwards, she dispensed with the idea of Dum Dum Girls completely and rebranded herself Kristin Kontrol, going all synths and glam. Somewhere amidst all this, she also divorced with her husband and sometimes collaborator, Crocodiles frontman Brandon Welchez.

“Only in dreams” was my introduction to Gundred and her beautiful voice, an asset that was only just starting to showcase on this particular album. It happened to also be my gateway to a few other likeminded bands that had somehow escaped my notice to this point, bands like Best Coast and Vivian Girls that riffed on the 60s girl group but upped griminess factor on the wall of sound. I had, on the other hand, already been exposed to the similar ethos of The Raveonettes, a band with whom I compared this album when trying to get others as hooked on them as I was. It didn’t surprise me, then, when I read in the album’s liner notes that it was co-produced by The Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner.

“Bedroom eyes” was the second single released from “Only in dreams” and also appears second in order of play. It has all that noise and peppy beat that you’d expect and Gundred imbues her vocals with longing, singing about missing her now ex-husband while they were both away on separate tours. It transports you back to a simpler time but doesn’t leave the current age so far behind that you forget how that so-called simpler time wasn’t so simple. Beneath the glorious jangle and shine and chiming backing harmonies is a toughness. Just watch the video that plays on all the videos that might have been made at the time. Kristin and her band members are all decked out in black, sexy and sneering, not at all like the delicate flowers the influencing groups back in the day would’ve been portrayed.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2011 list, click here.

* And an EP

100 best covers: #91 Dum Dum Girls “There is a light that never goes out”

<< #92    |    #90 >>

“And if a double-decker bus
Crashes into us
To die by your side
Is such a heavenly way to die”

Who else but Morrissey could pen such a lyric? Pair that with Johnny Marr’s instantly recognizable jangly guitar and you might wonder how anyone could possibly stand up to cover any song by The Smiths. Many bands try but very few succeed. Dum Dum Girls, the noise rock project led by Dee Dee Penny, have managed it, in my opinion, with their version of “There is a light that never goes out”.

The original appeared on The Smiths’ third record, “The queen is dead”, and is considered by some to be among the band’s best work. It’s got Marr’s aforementioned jangle, some synthesized strings, and of course, Morrissey’s warble, all typically morbid and depressing. It’s tone is melancholy in its regal, unhurried sound, a song that many a teenager has spun in their bedroom to soundtrack their breaking heart.

Dum Dum Girls’ cover appeared as the final track on their 2011 EP “He gets me high”, which was produced by Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner and by Richard Gottehrer (writer of 60s girl group hits, like “My boyfriend’s back”). Their version is bigger, brasher, and faster. The arrangements are the same but the sound is completely different. There are noisy guitars and heavy-footed bass drumming, and Dee Dee’s vocals are exuberant and thrilling in the pure emotion created by fresh love.

I’m not even close to admitting it to be better than the original, but Penny and her Dum Dum Girls, gave “There is a light” a pretty sweet makeover for a date night on a town. What do you all think?

The cover:

The original:

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.