Pom Poms With Alyeska, Brass Box, Ramonda Hammer At The Echoplex, Tuesday June 13th 2017
Pom Poms was throwing a party at the Echoplex on Tuesday night, a party to celebrate the recent release of their full length ‘Turn You Out’, and for this they had surrounded themselves with some retro robots, which had invaded the stage, like in a 60’s Sci-fi B-movie
But the night was featuring four bands in total, and Alyeska started the party on a melancholic note, with weirdly surprising chord progressions and Alaska Reid’s dreamy-ethereal-whispering (and even semi-conversational at times) vocals. With a lot of fuzz in the pedals and a bold desire for the 20-year-old songwriter to take a sort of Sonic-Youth-anti-catchiness direction, her emotive and moody songs sounded confessional with some throbbing chords… ‘Every song is in a different tuning,’ she explained while taking another guitar. She was wearing the same short nightgown with black tights that Courtney Love could have worn during a early Hole concert, and except for the last song, a more upbeat with strangely disarticulated eerie vocals and loud fuzzed out guitars, her set was rather melancholic, in a sort of Jonny Mitchell-meets Dinosaur Jr way.
The second band Brass Box was also fronted by a woman with ethereal vocals, but their full sound was much more explosive and stormy. They played dreamy and evocative soundscapes, between darkness and sad shoegaze, reaching noise-potential level like a My Blood Valentine track. They certainly weren’t as loud as the famous Irish band, but their sound seemed equally dense and meandrous, while Ammo Bankoff’s voice was floating above the atmospheric music, slowly sprawling but sometimes letting a guitar line detach itself from the dramatic amped-up fuzz. For one or two stormier songs, I even got an Interpol vibe, as the guitars adopted a faster, dark and thick tempo before crashing into a loud thunder.
Ramonda Hammer, still fronted by a woman, the very dynamic Devin Davis, played a crunchy set of grunge-era inspired songs. She must have been baptized ‘the queen of grunge by KSPC for a good reason. The band released their debut album ‘Whatever That Means’ early 2016, and got some solid recognition from many publications. It was a steamy set, with screaming vocals boldly cutting through the successive guitar assaults and a palpable stage energy, walking between chaos, abrupt rhythmic changes and sweet pop melodies hidden deep inside the crunchy loudness. But they were also here for the release of their EP ‘Destroyers’, a grungy hard-rocking power-song with yearning-screaming vocals, and for this one, Devin Davis even got the help of Pom Poms’ fabulous chanteuse.
Pom Poms was an absolute revelation and delight, a collaboration between vocalist/songwriter Marlene Gold (although everyone called her Jessie) and Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Billy Mohler (Awolnation, Liz Phair, Kelly Clarkson, Macy Gray), and I am certain the crowd was in the mood for listening to them all night long. Sexy, seductive and badass, Marlene has one of these voices, the dark-nasal voice of a powerful seductress of the 60s, the type that makes you forget about time and genres. It got to shine all set long, and especially during their catchy song ‘Betty’, which sounded like a Italian pop variation of a Roy Orbison song. ‘Welcome to my party motherfuckers!’ she told us while dancing in her red gown.
She was a true performer, the type to put the stage on fire just by her croon and moves, and this is exactly what she did, while oscillating between garage pop and plain totally thunderous rock. But at any moment, she was always commanding the party. As a logical progression of the night, she and Ramonda Hammer’s Devin Davis covered ‘My Girl (where did you sleep last night)’, the fold song made famous by Kurt Cobain. Yes, there was something a bit retro, even vintage in Pom Poms’ music, but it was certainly an updated and flamboyant version of vintage, mixed with a raucous Hollywood glamour that you could see in Marlene’s long fake eyelashes.