Graded on a Curve:
The Courettes, “SHAKE!” c/w “You Woo Me”

Regarding two person rock ‘n’ roll, few have done it better than Flavia and Martin Couri, the married duo who record and play shows as The Courettes. Flavia, originally from Brazil, is the singer and guitarist, while Martin, who hails from Denmark where the band is currently based, handles the rhythm and some backing vocals. Theirs is a raw ’60s garage sound blended with pop elements from the same era, and they’ve sustained a high level of quality for nearly a decade. Their latest is “SHAKE!” c/w “You Woo Me,” available February 16 through Damaged Goods Records, and it’s a burning groove double whammy.

Half of this gold-vinyl 7-inch is a taster for The Courettes next full-length, which is set for release this September; it’s the flip that’s exclusive to this platter. Excluding Boom! Dynamite (An Introduction to the Fabulous Courettes), a compilation issued last year, and Here We Are the Courettes, a 2021 CD that combines their first two LPs, the duo’s upcoming LP will be their fourth, which is frankly a pretty high number for an outfit specializing in garage punk.

Along with a pair of 10-inch discs (perhaps we’ll call them mini-LPs), The Courettes have a slew of singles in their discography. This isn’t a surprise, as that’s the format where garage punk bands (and duos) tend to excel. The reason is reliably due to short-players capturing quick bursts of inspiration in a relatively timely frame, before the edges get smoothed down and urgency inevitably diminishes.

To expect more than a few short sharp singles from a garage punk act is a set-up for disappointment. And by extension, that’s why The Courettes’ inspired prolificacy over such a substantial period of time is worth celebrating. A big reason for the sustained success comes down the pair’s melodic deftness. Frequent is the praise The Courettes receive for their acumen with retro-’60s pop hooks, and it’s a streak that extends to “SHAKE!” as the catchiness gets merged with strong classic R&B-ish groove stomp reinforcing the Sonics comparisons they’ve garnered over the years.

While the gnawing amp fuzz and the flowing organ licks do solidify The Courettes as a throwback concern, the track swaggering forth like they’re tearing it up in some swank mod discotheque circa early ’66, as the cut progresses, Flavia’s string wrangling gets so wild, the distortion levels so high, and the rhythm so pounding, that there will ultimately be no confusion over when this song was waxed.

“SHAKE!” is a decidedly rockin-soulish affair, pulled off with panache, and if wild, there’s no strain. It’s a template that carries over to “You Woo Me” on the flip, which is a few degrees less manic but still plenty thumping (Martin gives the toms a nice workout) as they toy with a sly pop undercurrent and the fuzz and organ remains.

The Courettes’ success comes down to good judgment in concept and execution. Ambition isn’t a quality often associated with garage-styled outfits, mainly because the impulse regularly spells disaster. But Flavia and Martin Couri consistently deliver more than standard punky maulers and Spector-esque pop maneuvers. If “SHAKE!” c/w “You Woo Me” isn’t a double A-side, it should be.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
A-

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