Good Influences: The Dum Dum Girls

dumdumgirlsAlthough they’re currently based in New York, the Dum Dum Girls make perfectly Californian pop with a punk edge. Comprised of members Dee Dee, Jules, Sandy, and Malia, the ladies have two albums and two EPs under their belts and a growing fan base. The fuzzed-out, lo-fi sound of their debut might have been traded in favor of more straightforward garage rock, but the strong tunes remain intact. Lead singer and songwriter Dee Dee Penny started the band as a bedroom solo project, then recruited other band members along the way. Hearkening back to the golden days of rock while retaining a fresh lyrical perspective, the Dum Dum Girls wear their influences on their sleeves.

With the lo-fi sound on their first album, the Dum Dum Girls were heavily influenced by indie artists like Talulah Gosh. Formed in England in 1988, Talulah Gosh ushered in the golden era of K Records and twee pop. The hazy sound and high energy of the genre won over fans like Kurt Cobain, while influencing many bands to come. After their breakup, the members of Talulah Gosh regrouped as Heavenly, and then once more as Tender Trap. The influence of each of these bands can be heard in the music of the Dum Dum Girls.

One of the most loved bands of the 1980s, The Pretenders were mainly a rotating group of backing musicians for lead singer and rock icon Chrissie Hynde. With her smoky voice and edgy look, Ohio-born Chrissie formed the Pretenders in England in 1978. A string of hit records followed, and the band remained at the top of the charts for more than 15 years. They continue to perform today. Dee Dee’s voice bears more than a passing resemblance to Chrissie’s, and the jangly guitar sound employed by the Pretenders has surfaced in many Dum Dum Girls songs.

Blending Hollywood Noir with British punk and a dash of Americana, X were one of the premier west coast bands in the 1980s. Exene Cervanka shared lead vocal duties with John Doe, and caused quite a stir with her multi-colored hair and ripped clothes. The Dum Dum Girls have mined similar west coast punk and surf styles to emerge with a sound similar to X’s.

Like every all-girl band, the Dum Dum Girls owe a debt of gratitude to the girl bands of the 1960s who paved the way for female musicians of the future. One such band was East Los Angeles’ The Girls, four sisters who had been playing music together all their lives. Rosemary, Diane, Sylvia and Margaret Sandoval recorded two singles (“My Baby” and “Chico’s Girl”), performed for troops in Vietnam, and earned a sponsorship from Fender guitars and amps. They also played at Bob Dylan’s birthday party in 1966. They still perform together as Not Your Average All Girl Band.


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