Surfer Girl Magazine
Since 1997, Dressy Bessy has released three LPs and one EP, all on the Kindercore record label. Though a small jewel buried in the shallows of the underground, they've had two songs fittingly featured in the indie film But I'm a Cheerleader, as well as contributing to the cartoon series "The Powerpuff Girls" soundtrack. As you listen to Dressy Bessy's self-titled record, you may wonder if Tammy isn't one of the Powerpuff Girls herself, fighting evil with big mischievous eyes, a baby-doll dress, and a bow on her head to match. The album's kick-off track, "Just Once More," will get you jumping up and down on your bed-- or just really wanting to--for the next 10 tracks, and then some.
She may be singing about herself in "Baby Six String," chiming in "Hoorah, hoorah," at every chorus, sounding like a cheerleading rotten-apple who's "much too cool to be common." "Girl, You Shout!" will certainly make you do so as Tammy, the coolest chick on the playground, taunts, "Tag along with me." Every song is complementary in its bratty, rambunctious, tough, and irresistible sound. The whole album is sweet and sassy. Oh, and it's not for women--it's for girls. -Christina Scannapiego 8/03.
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For a few minutes in the Nineties, it seemed like every other band sounded like this -- happy, strummed guitars, a fast-and-tight rock & roll rhythm section and lead vocals derived from kindergarten-girl cartoon characters. But where the Breeders were too arty and messed-up to sustain a career, Veruca Salt had personal issues and Letters to Cleo lacked vision, Denver's six-year-old Dressy Bessy has a glimmer of hope. The quartet's third full-length album is snappy and smart, with thick electric-guitar chords forming a sphere of protection around singer Tammy Ealom's high, not-as-fragile-as-it-seems voice. And don't forget the rhythm section, which turns "Georgie Blue" into an upbeat pop classic and "Baby Six String" (opening line: "Baby got a six-string/Man she's traded in her school ring") into staccato punk-pop with the feel of Elastica's "Connection." If radio programmers have any taste left, Dressy Bessy is a hit. -Steve Knopper 8/03
Delusions of Adequacy
There are two impressions you may get at a Dressy Bessy show – and having lived in Dressy Bessy’s hometown of Denver, Colorado, I’ve seen many – and those impressions are 1: These well-dressed hipsters with their sly asides may be too hip for me, but 2: their infectious music and sheer infectious joy instantly makes me feel at home. On their third full-length album, perhaps the only band to successfully meld the Elephant 6 styles of retro/psychedelic-tinged rock with modern power-pop and sheer bubblegum has created what may be the perfect pop album. And dammit, you’re plenty hip for this band.
In the space of 11 songs, the four-piece band has all the elements of a perfect pop album: Tammy Ealom’s vocals are cute and bouncy yet possessing a sly edge; the guitars by Ealom and Apples in Stereo alum John Hill are tight, perfectly recorded, and full of hook after hook; and the rhythm duo of Rob Greene (bass) and Darren Albert (drums) are tight and catchy. While Ealom had proven she has the perfect voice for the band’s style of power-pop bubblegum on the band’s previous efforts, here she seems more mature, a bit more serious without losing her playful edge. And, if anything, the band has even more hooks than before.
Perhaps the best example of a perfect hook-driven pop song is “The Things That You Say That You Do,” which uses some clanky guitar strum to deliver the memorable hook, and Ealom’s own drawn-out voice is perfect. It’s impossible to hear this song and sit still. A nice mix of guitar and bass provide the framework of “Baby Six String,” on which Ealom sings, “if it’s uncool to be common, baby I don’t wanna talk.” This is a good example, too, of how her own voice provides the perfect backing vocals when mixed this well. The bouncy, playful “Better Luck” is full of hand-claps and fast-paced sing-a-long lyrics.
Although the foundation of bubblegum pop is light, cheery music, Dressy Bessy prove they’re more than bubblegum, as evidenced on “This May Hurt (a Little).” The song, which appears to be about a good friend growing up, gets a bit deeper as it bounces along: “I don’t miss much of Josy much of the time / Though I know she’s feeling helpless most of the time / These days she may wonder what I’d done / I don’t miss much of Josy, what she’s become.” By contrast, songs like “Girl, You Shout!” and the absolutely lovely and charming “New Song (From Me to You)” are just light and fun.
Much has been made of Dressy Bessy’s retro feel, and the foundation of their music is clearly the sheer fun pop sounds perfected by the Beach Boys and the 60’s sound, but it’s clear on this release that the band has exorcised any pure retro mindset and placed themselves firmly on the forefront of the modern pop scene. Because, frankly, hooks are timeless, and such sheer fun, catchy, and clever songwriting is as much a product of today as yesterday. This is the album that Dressy Bessy has been gearing up to make, and it will clearly give this hard-working band the recognition it deserves. And if you get a copy with the accompanying DVD disc, there’s even more of Dressy Bessy to enjoy in video form! -Jeff 8/03 www.adequacy.net