Juliette and the Licks
From Four on the Floor (Hassle)
Their debut EP set pants on fire with brass-balls-to-brick-walls rock ‘n’ roll. But Juliette and the Licks’ full-length paled in comparison. So to hear “Hot Kiss” tumble out of the speakers with a rhythm as ferocious and playful as a barbed-wire hula hoop is promising. It’s a sign the band finally recognized that their singer is Juliette Lewis and started playing to her many strengths, one of which being her disturbingly realistic portrayal of loonies. The chick is bonkers—go with it! The jangle-y opening riffs here pave a perfect catwalk for Lewis to barrel down as she sketches out a nympho-type named Talulah who has a frenzied, blinding hard-on for her loverboy. In a kind of “Papa Don’t Preach” moment, the protagonist recounts her clueless father’s reaction to her unsettling behavior: “‘Oh Talulah,’ he said, ‘you’re so dramatic. What’s all that shakin’ goin’ on in your attic?'” We’re not sure it’s been properly diagnosed yet.
“Two Times Blue”
From Necessary Evil (Eleven Seven)
Debbie Harry has every right to parade around like a diva who only bathes in crystal tubs of Veuve Clicquot. But on any given night, the voice of Blondie can be found in dingy bars, checking out her creative progeny—Theo & the Skyscrapers, Miss Guy, Justin Bond, etc. . . . Likewise, Harry could have gotten a fat-cat producer for her fifth solo album, but instead chose Brooklyn duo Super Buddha (Barb Morrison and Chas Nieland), which proves a winning move on the suave pop “Two Times Blue.” A kaleidoscope of dulcet synths dazzle and enchant, but thick rock ‘n’ roll drums punch up the track. When it comes to two-timing hearts, the “It” girl of the moment is singing “I know that I’m no good,” but here, the perennial “It” girl warns, “You’ll be two times blue if I go.” The audacious claim of a diva? More like a swoon-inducing oracle.
Gore Gore Girls
From Get the Gore (Bloodshot)
If Lita Ford had a DJ night in a feminist titty bar, she’d spin “Pleasure Unit,” possibly the heaviest offering yet from Detroit garage-rock heartbreakers the Gore Gore Girls. Coincidentally, the track was co-written with a creature from Ford’s past: professional Svengali/hack Kim Fowley. But this track puts the choke hold—at least temporarily—on Fowley’s notorious edict that girls=dogshit. “Pleasure Unit” champions a babe’s right to get her skank on. Singer/ax lady Amy Gore lets her man have his cake, but just so we’re clear, she’s eating the bigger piece. “Deep down inside I’m a selfish witch/One half tomboy, one half bitch,” she declares. Engulfing the cantankerous vocals are layers of bad-ass Gretsch guitars, screaming solos, and a stomping groove that sound like the result of an exorcism in the basement of Alice Cooper’s house. Gore’s man disapproves of her alley-cat ways, but it ain’t his call to make: “One man’s trash is another girl’s treasure.”