By Steve Weinstein
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If you haven't heard of Lissy Trullie yet, then you probably don't hang out at fashion shows, dance at Santos' Party House, wear slim-cut blazers over white T-shirts, or read Paper Magazine. Among those who do, her star is already burning bright, fueled by the fawning of the downtown crowd. Some might even hate her for it already. But how far can that cool-machine take her? Asked directly, she shrugs fabulously, screws up her lips, and says, "Shit, I don't know."
Judging by her debut EP release show at Mercury Lounge last Wednesday, Trullie's got a good shot at blowing up in the real world. (You know, the one that begins above 14th Street.) And it's not just because the 25-year-old Sissy Spacek look-alike is a willowy fashion plate with legs that go on forever and have the girth of parking-meter poles, or because she hacks her own strawberry-blonde hair into the cutest butch bowl-cut ever, or because, as a former model, she's every guy's—and gal's—dream. ("I love your pussy, Lissy!" screams one female admirer at the edge of the stage. "Thanks!" she replies. "I love your pussy, too, baby doll.") No, Trullie's potential lies in her songs and the way she performs them: catchy yet disaffected, shot through with boozy energy and laden with the rawest guitar work possible. If you're thinking of that old Strokes sound, you've got it about right, except that Trullie's Nico-like alto (which she mixes up with dashes of ethereal falsetto) is untouchable even by Julian Casablancas.
Backstage, Trullie lounges with her band, slouching as she does so stylishly in a baggy T-shirt and leather jacket, her pointy-toed platform boots resting on the paint-chipped floor. If she's excited about the long-awaited release of her Self-Taught Learner EP, her distant demeanor doesn't let it show. She insists coolly that, despite a recent fashion-media blitz (including an appearance in Elle and a spot on Paper's Most Beautiful People list), it's all been a long time coming. "Seriously, I've been working my ass off for this," she declares. And it's true. She's played in bands since her teenage years, when her mother moved her from Washington, D.C., to New York. Then, she was an art-school kid (Parsons) who modeled on the side, milling around with the downtown crowd that would eventually help her along, getting her gigs at fashion events (she's playing Phillip Lim's show this week) and DJ sets at celeb spots like the Beatrice Inn and Bungalow 8. At one point, she hooked up with Sinead O'Connor's sometimes-manager Fachtna O'Ceallaigh, but the relationship fell apart after some major-label development sessions that made Trullie uncomfortable. "I didn't want to sound like a girl group," she says now. "I like it raw."
Appropriately, when she steps onstage with her band (guitarist Eben D'Amico, bassist Ian Fenger, and drummer Josh Elrod), her sound is decidedly stripped-down. But Trullie plays it totally pro, starting the set with her second-best song, "Boy Boy" ("All those notches in your belt make your pants tight," she wails at a would-be suitor), and ending with her best, Self-Taught Learner's title track. After her cover of Hot Chip's exhilarating "Ready for the Floor," she stops to thank all the people who made the EP possible. Of course, they're mostly fashion folks, like Sophomore designer Chrissie Miller and style maven Harley Viera Newton. But by then, Trullie has already proven she has the moves to be taken seriously by the music crowd, too.