Dee Dee Penny of the Dum Dum Girls (Courtesy of Sub Pop Records)
The Black Cat hosted two female-fronted bands well worth an evening of listening on a sold-out Saturday night.
Blouse, a synthpop trio from Portland, Ore., recently traded their keyboards for guitars on their second album, Imperium. They opened for the Dum Dum Girls, the increasingly popular quartet from Los Angeles celebrating a third full-length release with Too True. This music reporter was pretty happy with both bands overall thanks to the shades of 80s post-punk that shown through in the music of their two sets.
Given my predilections, you’ll have to excuse me — when I first heard Blouse, I absolutely was hooked by their first album, and it’s been difficult for me to fairly judge their second by the standard that it set. I took notes during the show only to find myself scribbling praise for the songs from the band’s first self-titled album from 2011.
So last week, I ventured to the Black Cat to catch Veronica Falls, a band that a lot of my indie-minded friends have praised at one point or another. They have released their second album, Waiting for Something to Happen, which offers up more of the bright speedy pop found on their debut album.
Songs like “Broken Toy,” “Waiting for Something to Happen” and “If You Still Want Me” — which were played to good effect in the middle to latter half of the set — all come urgently while showcasing sweet harmonies between Roxanne Clifford and James Hoare, who share vocal duties while playing their guitars. Those guitars got louder as the show progressed, as the band seemed to arrange their set list to build up the sound and the layers as the show progressed.
While it’s a given that Veronica Falls are labeled shoegaze by many critics, they don’t exactly play like shoegazers. The guitar players notably keep their heads up and their instruments are rather quite free of the fuzzy guitar feedback that serves as a hallmark of the classic shoegaze sound. Their playing is muscular yet jangly, however, defying easy classification.