Pretty Girls Make Graves

All five members of this Seattle-based band -- whose best reference point might be Blondie meets At the Drive-In -- have roots deep-seeded in punk rock. Bassist-vocalist Derek Fudesco played with the Murder City Devils for more than five years, and lead singer Andrea Zollo, his girlfriend, sang in Death Wish Kids and the Hookers. The resulting Pretty Girls Make Graves debut album, Good Health, feels like racing down a dark highway: dangerous, hypnotizing, and exhilarating. The playing is accomplished and tight, the production is clean and crisp, but the rhythm races and surges. Drilling guitar riffs rush in and spiral, and Zollo's staccato vocals rise and fall with impassioned urgency. Broken melodies and push-pull guitar lines drive the lead track, "Speakers Push the Air." Wiry guitar, floating feedback, and heavy bass give "The Getaway" an emotional charge. Drum-machine buildups and desperate screams push "Bring It on Golden Pond" to the verge of bursting. The sonically weighty and forceful record builds, erupts, then streamlines like the off-road images that warp with speed. It's a cool, cool ride.

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Jenny Tatone