PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Dressy Bessy: Little Music: Singles 1997-2002

Mitch Pugh

Dressy Bessy

Little Music: Singles 1997-2002

Label: Kindercore
US Release Date: 2003-03-11
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

So you're a Denver psych-pop band putting out consistently solid, catchy '60s style music with enough personality to fall on this side of indie in a cow town known more for the jam band proclivities of its neighbor to the north (Boulder) or its abundance of Lo-Do frat rock cover bands than its burgeoning underground scene; a city that was just too much to handle for your closest kin, Apples in Stereo, driving that band all the way to the backwoods of Kentucky. What do you do?

Well, if you're Tammy Ealom and Co., you get all dressed up to dance, head down to the South By Southwest Music Festival to whip some Texas-sized buzz, and release a greatest hits record. That's right -- greatest hits. Well, sort of anyway. The 13 tracks were mostly first released as 7-inches, EPs and imports. But you know what? It just might be working.

Dressy Bessy blew down the doors of Emo's in Austin earlier this year with a sound best described as Brian Wilson directing a Sleater-Kinney that has finally admitted they really did dig the Go-Go's. Throw in some garage-tinged psychedelic guitar work and you've got the unlikely formula for The Next Big Thing. And Little Music is just a hint at what everyone is talking about.

The opening track, "Live to Tell All", has so much energy it surely will inspire a new line of dashboard indie rock girl bobble dolls, bouncing around in their lollipop-stripped miniskirt, white nylons and matching knee-high go-go boots (Ealom's outfit of choice at SXSW). It could almost be considered too much sunshine -- bubble-gum pop at its worst -- if it weren't so damn catchy and if John Hill's guitar wasn't so scorching. Shaking and shimmying and doing their little dance, it's Dressy Bessy at its best -- fun and smart vintage rock. How this stuff hasn't found its way to radio would be mystery if not for Clear Channel.

The second track, the equally strong "Lipstick", starts out with nearly 50 seconds of Pong-like bleeps over keyboards before giving way to Hill's syncopated, fuzzed-out rhythm guitar, evoking the very best of the Kinks. Ealom's first few melodic lines, "Lipstick / He wore it on his collar / As she kissed him / A little bit like me", are quickly joined by her twin studio sister in an infectious harmony that would make the best of the '60s Britpopster set envious.

"Gloria Days" falls into that same vein before giving way to "Instead", which is the band at its most indie -- a sing-a-long minor key groove that is probably most responsible for the comparisons to Sleater-Kinney. "All the Right Reasons", "Ultra Vivid Color", and "Fuzzy" explore the punk and psych-rock side of the band, crunchy garage guitars with a laid-back melody hovering above them. "2 My Question" slows things down a bit, reverb-heavy and slow-burning, it stands out of place with the rest of the disc and is one of the few disappointments.

But Dressy Bessy never disappoints for long. "Princess", about a girl who gets high all the time among other things, returns to the rave-out girl garage rock that the band does best. "Sunny" and then "I'm Never Wrong", light but deceptively clever like a good beach book, round out the older material on the disc.

Yet, this isn't completely a look back. The last track on Little Music is the demo version of "Tidy", a new song that utilizes a drum track to mixed results but also indicates that Ealom, Hill, bassist Rob Greene, and drummer Darren Albert haven't exactly lost their touch. Those who have been fortunate enough to get their hands on the rest of the material on August's self-title follow-up, though, never had to worry about that. Predicting who's going to "make it" and who isn't has always been dicey business, but you've got to like these odds.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.