(Wicked Cool Records)
Fair or no, all-girl bands are judged by either the
commercial success of such distaff outfits as the Go Gos and the Bangles, or by
nostalgia-enhanced memories of the queens of proto-punk, the Runaways. Never
mind that female rock bands, though fewer in number than their masculine
counterparts, are just as diverse, quirky, and creative as any other band,
regardless of critical biases or preconceived notions.
This is the critical and commercial environment that
Cocktail Slippers, a five-woman band of Scandinavian bad girls, unabashed
rockers all with hearts of gold. Saint
Valentine’s Day Massacre, the band’s sophomore effort, is a modern day
classic of garage-pop goodness, evoking memories of both the raging femininity
of Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes as well as the snarling tomboy, take-no-shit
attitude of Joan Jett’s best solo work.
The band members collectively write a fair rockin’ song,
sweeter than the Donnas, punkier than the Eyeliners, and tunes like “You
Do Run,” with their vocal harmonies and whipsmart lyricism, slashes of
manic guitar and explosive drumbeats, pay homage to 40+ years of girl-group
history. “Gotta Crush” is a delightful throwback to a simpler era,
with engaging harmonies, a simple but universal plotline, and overwhelmingly
beautiful wall-o-sound production. “Round & Round” rocks harder,
with a punkish intensity, roaring riff-heavy guitars, and guttercrash drumbeats.
The best bet on Saint
Valentine’s Day Massacre, however, is the title track. Penned by producer
Little Steven (Van Zandt), the song’s combination of ’60s pop vulnerability and
leather jacket tuffness is bolstered by delicious vocals and harmonies, a
haunting melody, swells of genius keyboards, and a broken-hearted lyrical undercurrent
that will have you reminiscing about your first love. If there was even a shred
of justice in this cold, cold world then this song would be a mondo-huge radio
hit, the album would sell multiple truckloads, and the Cocktail Slippers would
be the toast of the town.
Standout Tracks: “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre,” “You Do Run,” “Gotta
Crush” REV. KEITH A. GORDON