“Dumpunk and primal clubstomp screw-you, wrapped in black and white twilight night static.”
Austin, Tx. Summer 2018. Hotel Vegas plays throwback to spit ‘n slime bars where everything’s just as is it should be; cheap, grimey, two steps to broken, walls slick with the stains of all previous evenings.
There was too much to choose from to go to that night so I played out some bandname roulette. How could I turn down ‘Teenage Cavegirl’? The name plays to all my best tastes. I was hoping for, waiting on, expecting sounds that would throw me right back to the scuzz. And to a backdrop of half painted Bermuda beach palms, this duo snarled angry and loud.
L.A.; she sings and plays drums. One floor tom, one snare and that’s it. Andy Ray sprays shades of guitar that rattle and hiss like a desert dried snakeskin, pickled in feedback and grit.
Nottingham, England. Months later. I receive in the mail their first single; translucent pink vinyl, cartoons and film stills; it’s a gift from some forgotten history’s mess where trash, glam and sleaze and garage all tangled and scuffled like playmates in dirt.
So I promised I’d pin down some words…
A-Side: ‘They’re Gonna Get Ya’
Let’s cut to the chase and right down to the bone; this is cult movie subgenre cool. We ain’t seeking no truth or redemption. From first groove of the record in hypnotic pink this is dumpunk and primal clubstomp screw-you, wrapped in black and white twilight night static. The statement’s the volume and presence, the persistence of pressure-pressed drums. Overdrive drips off dead-surf guitar jangles and breaks when the chords get crunched out.
L.A. sings breezy in a smooth nu-brat way; too sweet to be snotty, too cool to be cruel, with a lazy 60’s spoilt go-go girl vox that hits spots between puncture and haze. It’s a two minute blast of intent, a flyby roadside poster in flicker/fault neons that swings by in half of an instant. Drums pound, we riff, we lick, we sing, and it’s over in what feels like seconds.
Confident, brattish, messy, demanding, deserving of two minutes more. What should I expect from the next side? I’m hoping for more of the same, and maybe an elaboration.
B -Side: ‘Psychotic Reaction‘
Elaboration’s a no-go. The fleeting and frenzy the build up before has almost been kicked to the way-side. But it fits and it’s worthy and it’s almost as if flipping over the record plays out like a segue between…
Few songs hang around the unknown royalty’s backroom quite like ‘Psychotic Reaction’. It’s up with Jack Scott’s ‘The Way I Walk’, Hassil Adkins’ ‘She Said’ and Warren Smith’s ‘Uranium Rock’. These songs permeate and penetrate and get passed up, passed around and flung down through the dim lights, the lowlifes, the creepers, the unhinged obsessives, that retrudge this sweet sludge back and forth. The Residents, Cramps, Fuzztones, Vibrators… there’s a world full of shake ups and covers.
Now it’s Teenage Cavegirl’s turn with the track, will they play with the original’s 60’s cartoon swing? Or let rip on the Cramps’ detuned earsplit clatter?
The answer goes back to the brattish and breezy, with a new half-spoilt charm that could just as easily be singing ‘I’m broken and pretty or just pretty broke’ as she breathes a new ease to the track.
It’s awash with a drug induced haze, and it plays to the strengths of her weakness – why fight with the music when you don’t have to bother, her anti-urgent delivery slinks through the fuzz and settles just right where it needs to.
And just as a thought and aside? I’ve never heard a girl sing this. Out of all the covers and all the gigs that I’ve seen or heard this played and pumped out at, this is already something that’s new.
It comes spacious and straight, a square root of a song by its uneven numbers with faint shades of a swing, dirt in the wings and with more than a nod to Cramp’s atonal sting.
Me-Side: The Wrap-up
They’ve placed themselves firm in the world that they love now they just need to carve out a space. New ground might not be cut but the mud’s been re-smeared, and this is only Teenage Cavegirl’s first single.
It’s short and it’s sweet and they fall on their feet and they’ve shown off their roots and desires, so stay tuned and stay sick and the next thing we get? Well it could be a cool kind of kick.