Graded on a Curve: Leather Girls,
Leather Girls

Many bands call Austin, TX home, and with a sound seemingly spawned from an echo-laden garage, Leather Girls are amongst their number. The four-piece’s self-titled debut is poised to spread the word far beyond the city limits, and for folks desiring another serving of ’60s rudiments, ’70s punk energy and contempo clamor, the disc will not steer them wrong. To be fair, it’s not as predictable as all that; just when the group appears to be settling into a specific era/ decade, they shrewdly shift the program. Leather Girls gets the vinyl, compact disc, and digital treatment June 2 through Yippee Ki Yay Records.

In terms of imagery, the name Leather Girls presented this writer with a variety of possibilities; obviously if one is of the certain age, Suzi Quatro will immediately sprang to mind, with additional female silhouettes likely to take shape. In fact, Leather Girls are three dudes and a gal, specifically Erik Camacho on guitar and lead vocals, Mike Garrido on guitar, Dillon Fernandez on drums, and Deborah White on bass.

Garrido and White also contribute vocals to the scenario, which is succinctly described as garage psych. To be frank, there is no shortage of the style in the bins these days, but Leather Girls cut an enticing amount of mustard right out of the gate; “Drawing Lines” oozes ample fuzz gunk and pedal smudge, but the residue is smartly combined with thump, velocity, and holler. The result is very much of the current century.

So, a nice start. However, track two finds Leather Girls delivering something considerably greater than a mere fix for genre fans. “Arabian Daze” weds huge rhythmic elasticity to a decidedly twisted ’60s pop approach; in turn, the mention of Tropicalia in Yippee Ki Yay’s promo blurb gets elevated far beyond standard namedropping.

“She” swings the stylistic needle toward the post-Diddley Nuggets-update side of the gauge and flaunts an attractively expansive instrumental break for good measure, while “Jeff” hands the microphone to White for a punkish ripper with deftly executed tempo changes; the slower portions slightly recall the Wipers, which is a snazzy development since bands hardly ever do that.

Indeed, much of Leather Girls is about similarities. A few more: “Dear Deborah” inspired thoughts of the Washington State outfit Girl Trouble if they’d more forthrightly embraced the K Records aesthetic and then mingled in a smidge of the Elephant 6 sound. It’s followed by “Call Tomorrow,” which alternates bluesy ’60s-Stones swagger with speedier contempo instrumental sections to positive effect.

Maybe it’s just the tune’s relative brevity, but “Foolish Lover” wafts a few art-punk fumes, with the choice odor not that far from the sweet-tangy aroma of L.A.’s Happy Squid label. From there, “LRS” ups the druggy ambiance and increases the forward throttle to arrive near the gush of Thee Oh Sees, though Leather Girls are looser, more typically garage sassy, and less Kraut focused.

“Poor Charlie” substantially increases the ’60s-derived stomp, but with enough energy and scuzz to avoid getting mistaken for a retro act. Just as importantly, they don’t pulverize the essence of their inspiration; one can imagine a wizened garage fan hearing this and nodding his head in approval (I say this with confidence as I begin to resemble such a listener). Same goes for the White-sung “I Never Loved Her,” which recalls the sort of stuff the Estrus label was pumping out back in the ’90s, but with a touch of Bratmobile thrown in.

It’s surely possible Leather Girls are unfamiliar with the pileup of comparisons above, but that’s a huge part of what makes them successful; nothing here is calculated, though the bedrock is clearly indebted to Lenny Kaye’s compilation skills. Backing this up is “Sweet Lenore,” which sounds like a cover from the era, but of who is not exactly clear.

The chiming, isolated guitar line in “When We Fight” is a tad bit reminiscent of the Syndicate of Sound, but when everybody else kicks in, the thrust becomes more up to date; some swell ’60s vocal harmonies balance the scales quite nicely. Instilled with low-mixed organ, front-and-center guitar and a psych-tinged vocal quaver, the solid “Card Catalog” is saved for last.

Altogether, Leather Girls is a fun ride and worthy debut, the songs flowing forth as the band avoids any significant missteps. A couple of powerhouse numbers could easily place them in the top-tier of the crowded field mentioned above, though a few of the tracks here already come close (I’m looking at you, “Arabian Daze”). Here’s one more for the buckling shelves of garage-psych mavens.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
B+

This entry was posted in The TVD Storefront. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text
  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text