Reviews

Dressy Bessy

Charlotte Robinson
Dressy Bessy

Dressy Bessy

City: Chicago
Venue: Schuba's
Date: 2003-05-24
S E T    L I S T
Live to Tell All
Better Luck
Super*Everything
That's Why
Lookaround
California
The Things That You Say That You Do
If You Should Try to Kiss Her
Georgie Blue
Makeup
Jenny Come On
Buttercups
You Stand Here
Girl, You Shout!
Just Once More
Carry-On
Big to Do
Flower Jargon
This May Hurt (A Little)
Tidy
Blink Twice
Extra-Ordinary
Dressy Bessy's new studio album doesn't come out until the end of August but it's already a hit -- at least with the crowd at the foursome's Chicago tour stop, who got a preview of the upcoming self-titled effort during a nearly nonstop performance Saturday night. The music was so irresistibly jubilant that a waitress stopped taking drink orders long enough to dance with a friend during "Just Once More" -- and rarely does a new, largely unheard song inspire such a reaction. The 22-song set also included plenty of highlights from the Denver-based band's recorded output so far, including the recent rarities collection Little Music. While Dressy Bessy has plenty of songs that are as sweet as its retro-dolly name, the song selection for its live show emphasized the group's ability to rock, hitting on retro-flavored garage ravers like "Live to Tell All" and "Extra-Ordinary", and only slowing down a few times for sweeter melodies like "Big To Do" and "Flower Jargon". Leader and primary songwriter Tammy Ealom claims that the upcoming album better captures the band's rawer live sound, and judging from this show, that assessment seems on target. On its previous recordings, Dressy Bessy's sound was dominated by guitar fuzz, but on the new album and in the live setting Ealom and John Hill (also of Apples in Stereo) play cleaner and more simply, allowing the power of the rhythm section of Rob Greene (bass) and Darren Albert (drums) to come through. Hill, a tall, thin guy who hopped around wearing a jovial smile throughout the set, provided a few harmonies for Ealom, but for the most part she was left to sing on her own, and the songs therefore lacked the punch of the girl-group harmonies they have on record. Still, they sounded great, with Ealom now singing in a more natural, less girlish range. The band also skipped a few of the guitar solos that appear on the recorded versions of its songs, such as on the new "Blink Twice", but it wasn't clear whether that was because Hill lacked the equipment needed for reproducing those sounds live or whether it was just part of the economical approach of the show. Appropriately enough, given the band's cute '60s-inspired sound, Ealom performed wearing a mini dress and go-go boots and carrying a guitar with decals on it, while the boys in the band were the model of sloppy casualness in slacks and button-down shirts. Despite the fact that Ealom is the only member of Dressy Bessy with a "look", it was bassist Greene, with his shaggy, crazed curls, who elicited a comment on his appearance, when someone in the audience cried out in disbelief, "Rob...your hair!" Otherwise, the show was thankfully short on banter from the performers or the audience, and the band bounded joyfully from one number to the next without pause and without the dreaded phoniness of an encore. Dressy Bessy's set was a model of friendly economy and simplicity, much like the refrigerator magnets for sale at its merchandise table, which Ealom made by decoupaging Little Music artwork onto wood blocks she cut herself. It's the personal touch that makes it so sweet.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image