Phoenix femme rockers' second album blends classic punk sneer with 1960s garage pop and a cameo from guest singer Nikki Corvette.
When Bomp impresario Greg Shaw first heard Hell on Heels, an all-woman four-person garage band out of Phoenix, Arizona, he told one reporter, "I feel the same way that Phil Spector must have felt when he first saw the Ronettes." (He put out the first Hell on Heels record, Les Hell on Heels shortly before his death.) That's maybe a little strong, but Dogs, Records and Wine is one monster of a garage-rock album, with fierce snarling verses and shout-along choruses, strident guitar mayhem and sweet 1960s organ. Album highlight "Can't Buy Cool" is pure rampage, as lead singer Paula Monarch dresses down a poser, while "Send Him" slithers and insinuates atop an evil bass line. Kindred spirit Nikki Corvette steps up to the mic for the sublimely sardonic, call-and-response havoc of "Pretty Mess" and "Made Like No Other", a sexy, self-assured "c'mere you" anthem that subtly updates the Shangri-Las. The 1950s and 1960s atmospherics are thick in the air, but you never forget that these are very independent, modern women. None of that moping around in a poodle skirt Mr. Right -- the ladies of Hell on Heels are perfectly okay on their own. "It's not that I don't need anyone / It's just the ones I need are few and far between," growls Monarch in the swaggery-slow, blues-tinged title track. She's got a dog, a bottle of wine, some cool records and a kicking rock band. A man would just be superfluous.