The marriage of ’60s garage, pop and girl groups has roots in the pre-punk street glam of The New York Dolls, with The Ramones, Blondie and Mink DeVille following soon thereafter -- each in their own unique style. London's Thee Headcoatees, featuring Holly Golightly, Memphis' The Hellcats, Barbara Manning's San Francisco Seals and Boston's Mr. Airplane Man were among a number of bands who would soon stir up their own garage/girl group brews.
L.A.-based singer/songwriter Kristin Gundred, whose stage name is Dee Dee, created Dum Dum Girls from her solo home recordings. Like Guided By Voices, the band was created before there was a band. In a similar fashion to GBV's leader Robert Pollard, Gundred forged her own brand of lo-fi garage pop, inserting Jesus and The Mary Chain, Siouxsie Sioux and Deborah Harry influences to her concoction. For the Dum Dum Girls' debut full-length, I Will Be, Gundred enlisted a band, including ex-Vivian Girls and Crystal Stilts drummer Frankie Rose, to flesh out her songs and gave the tapes to Richard Gottehrer, a minor pop icon, to produce. And it works.
In contrast to Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound," Gundred presents her "Wall of Noise." This "wall," however, is kept in the background to provide texture, allowing space for her vocals and melodies, highlighting her intelligent and clever phrasing, delivered with a Riot Grrrrl-like confidence.
This is in part due to Gottehrer, a former member of the ’60s group The Strangeloves, who created the 1965 minor hit, "I Want Candy" (later covered by Bow Wow Wow). Gottehrer went on to produce debut albums by Blondie, Richard Hell and The Voidoids, The Fleshtones, and The Go-Go's. He was also the co-founder of the maverick record label, Sire Records. His approach is to leave the arrangements up to the band, concentrating on the mixing, bringing up the song's strengths. Gundred had the producer's name on a short "wish list," and it proved a smart choice.
Songs such as the revved up Nancy Sinatra-esque "Bhang, Bhang I'm A Burnout" (the misspelling acknowledges a marijuana reference) and the Blondie-like coolness of "Jail La La" whiz right past, with a sharp beat and sing-a-long melodies. Dum Dum Girls just want to have fun.
On the slower (and varied) tempo songs, Gundred stretches out, delivering the crashing ballad "Rest of Our Lives" and a lonesome rendition of Sonny & Cher's "Baby Don't Go." Her skewed version of Lee Hazelwood/Sinatra on "Blank Girl," a duet with her husband Brandon Welchez (from Crocodiles), offers depth and variation, marking a distinction from the bulk of I Will Be.
Though the drum beat can get monotonous, the record moves swiftly with an infectious buzz, accentuating Gundred's promising talent. I Will Be is a perfect inclusion into the summer bag while hitching a ride to Rockaway Beach.