A GUEST POSTING by MARTIN ELLIOTT
(Our Swedish Correspondent)
For a reason I can’t really explain the new, now paused, Monday series of landfill indie got me inspired to do this Dum Dum Girls ICA. Not that I consider this landfill, on the contrary Dum Dum Girls are/were really great indie (is/was?, despite the plural indication it is just Dee Dee Penny, real name Kristin Gundred, that make up DDG). Probably because I believe DDG is great indie too few have heard, although the TVV crowd is if any likely an exception to that assumption.
As Dum Dum Girls, Dee Dee released 3 albums and a handful of singles/EP’s before she changed her recording name to Kristin Kontrol and released the so far only album X-Communicate in 2016. A really excellent album, but not included here as I focus on the Dum Dum Girls moniker.
Me finding her was a true chance meeting; for some years around the 2000-teens I worked intensively with our NA branch travelling 5 – 6 times a year to North Carolina. Staying a week each time, sharing my time between Charlotte and a small town about an hours drive east of Raleigh I always made the time to roam some of the record stores of Charlotte and Raleigh. Once, browsing through the “just in” bins in one of the Raleigh stores I came a cross a sleeve that caught my attention. Matte pink and grey, sturdy and looking high quality, it stood out among the rest. Picking it up I saw it was released on Sub Pop, another reason for interest, so I took it over to the record player in the store, put the headphones on and dropped the needle. The rest is as you say, history.
This was what I later learned her 2nd album – Only In Dreams from 2011. About a year later me and the family were in Lisbon for a weekend, walking through FNAC to satisfy the kids I just so happened to make my way by their music corner and saw another Dum Dum Girls album – Too True (from 2014) – for some reason on display despite this now being fall 2015. Picked it up and now really hooked I ventured to the internet to get her debut album from 2010 and 2 EP’s plus a lonely 7″ as well.
Dum Dum Girls never made (to my knowledge) any charts, Pitchfork had an eye for her/them but the larger music buying public apparently not. A shame if you ask me.
So let me introduce Dee Dee Penny and her Dum Dum Girls;
She Gets Me High – A Dum Dum Girls ICA
A1. Jail La La – (I Will Be, 2010).
The first DDG album released in 2010 was very much a bedroom recording effort mostly by Dee Dee herself, with some added help. 10 songs rushed through in a rather frantic tempo with echoes of say The Mo-Dettes, or maybe even The Ramones. Most of the tracks clocks in just under 3 minutes, this being a prime example.
A2. Crystal Baby (single b-side, 2011).
Taken from the Coming Down single, another short track that after a gentle start builds in intensity.
A3. Heartbeat (Take It Away) (Only In Dreams, 2011)
The album that first caught my attention, and the first of the tracks I listened to that afternoon in Raleigh. Guitars and a bit of attitude. All you need.
A4. Too True To Be Good (Too True, 2014)
Title track of the third and last DDG album, a richer version of Dee Dee’s take on indie. She stated her influences for this album were darker than earlier, citing bands like The Cure and Siouxsie & The Banshees but also Stone Roses. To me a more mature, deeper, sound, and a needed step away from getting stuck in a too familiar mould.
A5. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (He Gets Me High, EP, 2011).
A great version of a great song by what was a great band. (And equally not great is how he who we don’t name turned out to be in later years.)
B1. Lost Boys And Girls Club (Too True).
Released as a single preceding the Too True album, the intro has some rather obvious traces of the Cure-influences she mentioned. Heavier drums driving the track along a darker path. My favourite track from the LP.
B2. He Gets Me High (He Gets Me High, EP).
Apart from giving this ICA its name, it’s another great guitar lead track. The steps in sound taken from the debut album to the Only In Dreams follow-up were for the most part already taken by the release of this EP.
B3. In My Head (Only In Dreams)
Thematically dealing with the same lonely and longing state of loss as He Gets Me High. Longing for someone not there anymore rather than moving on. “I’d rather visit you in my head”.
B4. I Got Nothing (End Of Daze, EP, 2012)
Is it a break-up song? The lyrics are dubious, the chorus gives the impression but especially the first verse I (at least) find ambiguous. “What will I see if you’re not with me / What can I do, not without you”. Lyrics are a bit of pop-version Cure-gloom maybe, musically rather catchy .
B5. Coming Down (Only In Dreams).
An edit was released as single but this is the full album version in all its glory. A true album closer, even if it wasn’t placed as such on the album. Moody, and this is doubtlessly a break-up song, so if she wasn’t sure in I Got Nothing, now it’s over. (The song was featured in season 2 & 3 of “Orange Is The New Black”, still never hit any charts despite the exposure.)