Brooklyn is one of New York's five boroughs. Once the home of the Dodgers and a place with a serious crime problem ('70s - '90s), Brooklyn has nowhere near the excitement or glamour of Manhattan. It's a hard scrabble life. The frustration, especially for young people, who still haven't given up, seems to rise from the streets. Punk feeds off those feelings and gives voice to them.
The '07 Brooklyn club scene had a couple local favorites, Japanther (a great name) and King Kahn & BBQ Show. Go early (which hardly anyone ever does) and there was a chance to catch Vivian Girls; Cassie Ramone (guitar/vocals), Kickball Katy (bass/drums/vocals) and Frankie Rose (drums/bass/vocals).
Vivian Girls cut their teeth as an opening act on the way to '08 debut single "Wild Eyes" which was released on an indie label (Play With Dolls). Some bands benefit from a buzz or word-of-mouth which can be fortuitous if there is little or no promotional money. "Wild Eyes" became an underground indie hit and found its way to college playlists which encouraged the Mauled By Tigers label to issue a full-length self-titled album. The set, which had a limited pressing, sold out. A larger indie label, In The Red, decided to re-issue the album.
Rose left the Vivian Girls in '08 and was replaced by Ali Koehler.
The following year the group issued "Everything Goes Wrong," which Ramone described as "much longer and darker than the self titled debut."
Vivian Girls rip through their songs with abandon - just like any Punk group. Being a 'girl group' they also infuse tracks with vocal harmonies. This sweetness contrasts but doesn't dilute the band's rough edge.
"Vivian Girls" sounds like it was recorded after-hours at a dive club on antique four track gear. That lack of polish actually enhances the ambiance. Ramone tears up the chords and Katy's bass is in tight unison with Rose's propulsive drums.
"Go Insane" has a cheery feeling, despite the title, thanks largely to Rose's sharp yet jaunty beat. "Wild Eyes," "Damaged" and "I Believe In Nothing" are basic, high-energy Rock songs. That's Vivian Girls' main draw.
Ramone is right. "Everything Goes Wrong" is darker and longer than its predecessor. A couple songs roll past four minutes - an epic length in the Vivian Girls' world. Others run well over three minutes. To keep fans from going into shock some tracks are shorter than two minutes.
With songs titled "I Have No Fun," "Tension," "The End" and "Before I Start To Cry" (a nice, moody ballad), the Vivian Girls seem on a gloomy path. But what buoys the album (and the band's debut) is the band's timeless "wind it up and let it Rock" ethos. There are no big ideas here but if there were they'd only get lost in the cacophony. It irresistible and nearly every track clicks.