Here at Bollocks!, we don’t believe in guilty pleasures. You like what you like and that’s your damn business (unless you like Fall Out Boy, then it’s the world’s business to take note and join forces to stop you). So I’m not going to make any apologies for liking Dressy Bessy. I like them. Fuck you.
Yes, their music is dreadfully simple. Yes, Tammy Ealom sings like your teenage sister, taunting and too cute by half. Yes, they have five albums that mostly sound the same. But they’re a lot of fucking fun, which is a good thing for rock music to be. Some people operate under the false assumption that indie music should be all serious and sensitive. Sometimes, though, you have to chill the fuck out and bounce around the room. That’s where Dressy Bessy comes in (although it should be said, and can’t be said enough, that The Hold Steady perfectly melds room-bouncing awesomeness with serious intelligence).
Holler and Stomp is their latest offering and I tried to resist it for as long as I could, but who am I kidding? I’m a complete weakling for this band and have been since their eponymous third album (which is really their best – loud guitars, tight focus, and perfect brevity). So here I am listening to Holler and Stomp. And since I liked this album before I ever even heard it (weakling, remember?), there’s not much to talk about here.
There’s actually a greater attempt at varied song structure on Holler and Stomp than on previous Dressy Bessy outings. Stop laughing, it’s true. Their earlier work is pretty much straightforward rock, while Holler and Stomp flirts with funk and rockabilly. Dressy Bessy will probably never go the Green Day route of coyly planting a sensitive acoustic number at the end of a record thus launching them to the top of the charts, and that’s one of my favorite things about them. Their musical approach is, in a nutshell: “Any given song can be improved by adding an electric guitar to it.” This is the meat-and-potatoes shit, and Dressy Bessy does it with an infectious style.
Granted, the lyrics are often ridiculous. On the album opener “Automatic,” Ealom sings “I’m going to steal your candy,” and there’s nothing to indicate that this is any kind of metaphor. I’m pretty sure she’s talking about stealing your candy. “In Your Headphones” pretty much just repeats “It’s in your headphones” over and over (thank your favorite deity the song is barely two minutes long). There’s scant evidence in the Dressy Bessy catalog to suggest that they believe in metaphor or irony in the least, which is actually kind of refreshing when contrasted with, say, Fall Out Boy’s calculated lack of giving a shit. (A tangent, as is my wont – I was out a bar this weekend and they had a million TVs, all of which were showing music videos. This was only occasionally awesome, but for the most part they were showing Britney Spears and Fall Out Boy videos. Remember, I live in Los Angeles. But it was the most time I’ve spent listening to Fall Out Boy at one time where I had no control over changing the song. This band irrevocably blows. They must be stopped. How much do they fucking suck? Well, I saw a video of them covering Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” with John Mayer. The forces of evil are gathering, friends. If you are in a band, or thinking of starting a band, you must work to fight this with all your might. Gather up your guitars, learn to play them, and kick Fall Out Boy’s ass. I will help you.)
Dressy Bessy will always be my favorite Dressy Bessy album, but Holler and Stomp will probably move into second place – it’s a lot of fun and is more varied than its predecessor, Electrified. If you liked any Dressy Bessy album before, you will like Holler and Stomp. If you didn’t, you probably don’t like fun.
That’s pretty much all I have to say about Holler and Stomp. I dig it and I dig Dressy Bessy and I don’t care if the P-fork people snort derisively about it.
Sufjan Stevens still sucks.