Pretty Girls Make Graves

This Northwestern quintet plays jagged post-punk with a dash of goth verve (thanks to keyboards and singer Andrea Zollo), sounding like Siouxsie Sue fronting Fugazi. Formed with ex-Murder City Devils bassist Derek Fudesco shortly after that act's demise in 2001, Pretty Girls has put out two full-lengths, progressing from West Coast indie label Lookout to indie powerhouse Matador for 2003's The New Romance. The curt, punchy guitars that punctuate the songs are more spasms of melody than riffs, and overall, PGMG's crisp latticework of guitar has a brash nature somewhere between an inebriated Russell Crowe and paparazzi-buster Sean Penn. Such sonic aggression -- due so largely to the roughhewn guitar lines -- is counterbalanced by Zollo's somewhat ethereal gothic delivery, creating an eeriness that's dark, melancholy and bracing. This sonic melding is a lot more original and intriguing than the hundreds of punk-funk Gang of Four wanna-bes lurking in every musical corner these days.


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