The sweet sweaty rock of Tammy Ealom (vocals), John Hill (guitars), Rob Greene (bass), and ex-drummer Darren Albert can and will cause you to “get whiplash from dancing uncontrollably,” says Ealom, lead of Elephant 6 and Kindercore band Dressy Bessy. “We’ll rock anywhere.” She’s not kidding. Having turned up the sound on each consecutive record from their debut Pink Hearts Yellow Moons, to their most recent musical achievement on Transdreamer Records, Electrified, this Denver, Colo. band is hotter than ever.
Some recent achievements by the band, known for their finger-lickin’ sugar pop, most notably include an NPR editorial piece in June when Dressy Bessy went head to head with larger-than-life British rockers Coldplay. Their weapon? Electrified, their fourth album. For NPR’s Ken Tucker, Coldplay’s X&Y was no match for one of Dressy Bessy’s best works. From the stream on NPR’s website at www.npr.org, Tucker enthusiastically said,
“I listen to a band like Dressy Bessy after listening to Coldplay and I think that I must be living in an alternate universe; where the spunkiest, most life-affirming music is pushed to the margins to make room for the coldly played stuff that announces its intentions to be life-affirming, and then can’t quite heave its huge ambitions into the position of making good on that promise.”
The band, started in 1997 after Ealom’s departure from her first band 40th Day which received the most honorable praise of being on the Powerpuff Girls: Heroes and Villains movie soundtrack, as well as a recent appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. With all the buzz surrounding this (currently three-piece) band, it’s enough to make you wonder why they haven’t made twee-pop (very sweet and simple pop music), or better yet, themselves, more widespread in the indie pop-rock realm.
After all, isn’t there enough room for their earnest, coy, and fuzzy music among other more-recognizable bands such as The Decemberists, Stars, and Neutral Milk Hotel? The difference between what people would call more “prestigious” bands like Neutral Milk Hotel and the easygoing, pleasant bands like Dressy Bessy is the audience’s pre-existing expectations for the quality of indie music.
An audience could see a definite dividing line between more mainstream music like that of Britney Spears and Dave Matthews Band and the music of smaller alternative acts. There’s a higher expectation of smaller acts because they assumedly have more
control over their lyrics and work. The culture of more underground acts tends to seek out artists who have something “important to say.”
The reason why Dressy Bessy isn’t more popular within indie-rock is the same reason Ken Tucker provides in the NPR editorial piece – their music is pushed to the margins. Why? Because to many who expect indie-rock to be the very antithesis to mainstream, Dressy Bessy doesn’t provide the sort of more deeply insightful and bittersweet musical stylings of bands like the aforementioned Decemberists.
According to Ealom, “my Dad is a record collector [so] growing up, I was exposed to lots of 60s/70s rock and roll.” Other influences inculde: Prince, Michael Jackson and New Edition. Fellow band members Rob Greene and John Hill (who is also Ealom’s sweetheart) mention having hard rock and jazz backgrounds that contribute to the band’s signature simple pop.
“When I write songs, they usually start with a Casio, 3 guitar chords, a loose melody, and a few key words/thoughts,” says Ealom. “I like to make music that makes me and others want to dance & smile.”
Her intentions are not uncommon – she shares them with other cheerleaders of indie-rock like The Go! Team, Annie, and The New Pornographers. Their style of music is more than welcome to ears and feet, and for anyone who did not attend their show at the Canopy Club on Sept. 14 the joy of the music was infectious and everyone had a good time. So, if you’re interested in the kind of music that will warm you up this winter rather than send you into depressive spirals of angst, then come see Dressy Bessy tomorrow at Cowboy Monkey. Or as Ealom would sing, “Shake your shimmy man / do your little dance / hear the music yeah.”
Dressy Bessy will play at Cowboy Monkey tomorrow with The Reputation and rollicking local act the Living Blue. Show starts at 10 PM and cover is $8.