The Dum Dum Girls look cool, like a 1960s Catholic-school girl gang hiding switchblades behind their Danelectro guitars. But let’s talk about how they sound. From their earliest home-recorded singles in 2008, the Dum Dum Girls sounded something like a Shangri-Las record on a dusty turntable, cranked up at the far end of an echoing concrete staircase. It’s such a cool sound that when famous producer Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, the Go-Gos, the Raveonettes) took charge of their debut album, released late last month, he hardly changed a thing. A number of bands are exploring similar terrain these days, notably the Vivian Girls and Best Coast, but the Dum Dum Girls use the sound better than anyone I’ve heard.
Led by Kirstin Gundred, formerly of San Diego favorites Grand Ole Party (here she goes by the name Dee Dee), the Dum Dum Girls aren’t just paying homage to Phil Spector or the Jesus and Mary Chain, they’re using the sound to get at something deeper, some vague theme of girls losing themselves in boys and, through heartache, finding themselves as women. Gundred’s lyrics are often lost in a haze of reverb and distortion, but the theme keeps coming up — and there’s clearly something personal going on.
In the duet “Blank Girl,” Gundred’s husband Brandon Welchez (of Crocodiles) sings to her, “It’s so sweet to see you make it on your own from duck to swan.” Now put that together with a couple of other pieces of evidence: the album is titled I Will Be, and the cover features a picture of Gundred’s mother as a young woman.
Love Is All headlines.
DUM DUM GIRLS: The Casbah, Saturday, April 17, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $12 advance; $14 day of show.