Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Dressy Bessy, “Electrified,” Transdreamer Records, 2005.

Dressy Bessy doesn’t sound bad. It’s not like it jars the ears. They have rhythm, an ability to stay in tune, and that hint of aggression that punk showed us how to appreciate. In fact, there’s nothing wrong here -- if we only expect the bare minimum from our music. The problem is, though, we don’t. We expect musicians to see all that has come before and to demand more. It’s a tall order to ask, to be sure, but the point is that someone, somewhere is willing and able to take it up. Dressy Bessy’s album “Electrified” takes all of its fashion and album design influence straight from the sixties, but the music is just a watered-down version of the nineties rock group The Breeders. The well-worn formula is a heavy-hitting drum beat, some power electric guitar, a bass-line that follows obediently, and fronted by husky yet attractive female vocals. I’d be more forgiving if it wasn’t painfully obvious that I can turn this off and find any number of groups who do it better. The fashion is meant to be a façade that we see through, wanting it both ways: fashion-oriented yet too cool for fashion (the duality of most rock musicians, come to think of it). They’re the kids at prom who want nothing more than to be seen both dressed up and smoking outside, as if they never wanted to be there in the first place. But of course, they did, or else they wouldn’t have bothered to show up. So the problem with Dressy Bessy is that they’re all done up for the dance, they’re out back smoking, but the drags they take are obviously not natural. Sitting back and watching the whole fiasco, it must be said that, just like the record, we’re not buying it. That’s the point with music anymore: so many people want to be up on stage, we’re no longer expected to listen to each one; we’re all critics; we only accept the best, and it’s no surprise that you haven’t heard of Dressy Bessy.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Since High School

Freshman year at U of I - (Taft Hall, 1213 S. 4th St., Champ., 61820). Environmental Science. Topic proved boring. Rising independence yet decline of social life. Summer in Springfield. Lifeguard, parties, met soon to be girlfriend. Second year. Moved to apartment (711 W. Elm St. #15, Urbana 61801). Feeling pride yet ambivalence about growing older. Switch of major to English. Fulltime girlfriend. Last summer in Springfield. Road trip to New York. Third year. Same apartment. Less fun roommates. English major/ girlfriend. Summer as camp counselor, upstate New York. Aesthetically perfect, systematically oppressing. Year abroad, Liverpool, England (Great Newton Hall, 7 Lower Gill St, Lvrpl., L3 5BA, www.greatnewtonhall.com). Both independence and loneliness at peak. Travel Europe. More worldy perspective. Loss of girlfriend. Summer in Madison with brother. Feeling disconnected yet full of possibility. Road trip to west coast. Take friends to Muskoka, Canada. Fifth year. Still English major, still undergrad. My own apartment (802 S. Locust St. 6N, Champ. 61820). Creative facial hair. Road trip to Arizona. Start with journalism class and school newspaper. Get puppy. Accepted to grad school. Everything routinized, even weekend trips, yet content. Brother married. Summer in Urbana. New apartment (409 E. Fairlawn Dr., Urbana, 61801). Comfortable, adult.