The first two or three times I saw the Dead Girls, they were rough around the edges. The vocals and instrumentation didn't quite mesh, and the songs weren't nearly as good as either of the members' prior bands.
I then didn't see them for a year or so, and happened to come across the band at the Jackpot one night. It was like another band up there on stage. The Dead Girls are now a tightly-knit four-piece that performs their brand of power-pop with the self-assured presence of a band that's been around far longer.
The Dead Girls' assurance may come from the four members being very aware of their influences. They don't go so far as to cop riffs or lyrics from any of the bands from which they draw. In every song, however, there's something in the tone or delivery to which you can point and say, "That's a Thin Lizzy bit" ("Last Words") or "Those are some Fleetwood Mac chord progressions" ("She Can Turn It Off").
It's not surprising: I've never seen a group of musicians who like playing other people's music as much as the Dead Girls. The four members have variously played in tributes to Thin Lizzy, Guns 'n' Roses, and the soundtrack to Adventureland.
Still, the band takes all these influences, adds in a large dollop of Big Star, and turns them into something all their own. While you can hear the R.E.M. jangle on "What's Another Day," there's a heavy bass line running through the song, giving it a honky-tonk undertone that's totally unexpected.
"You Ignited" and "Te Quiero" are the strongest tracks on the album, by virtue of being the most upbeat. They're the tunes that usually get the people in front of the stage rocking and singing along most strongly, and I foresee both songs getting a lot of windows-down, stereo-cranked car stereo plays this summer.
Rocket Heart Records has put out a gem of a record here, and it's even an actual record. Out of Earshot is a warm, friendly, inviting recording, and it's the sort of music that just sounds better with a little bit of crackle running behind it.