By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
5. Maria Isa
7. Gay Beast
8. (tie) Awesome Snakes
10. (tie) One for the TeamCyndi Lauper, Janis Joplin, and Billie Holiday; White prefers the cooler, chilled-out vibe of Nina Simone, Sade, and One Self's Yarah Bravo. White's voice flows in a low alto with a dusky timbre. She explains that a voice teacher once told her "she'd never worked with anyone who had such a low range, so she thought maybe my vocal cords had been damaged as a child. She said maybe my mom gave me milk that had been heated too high—I guess that can happen." She breaks out into rap during some songs, but can also sing word-packed verses with the rapid precision of Fiona Apple working in the lower registers. Cutting through the top of Black Blondie's cloud of soul like an aggressive sunbeam comes Linton's nasal-edged R&B voice, floating and emoting, her lungs hooked up to some unseen wah-wah pedal that lets her glide back and forth over a single syllable.
A force unto itself, the Black Blondie rhythm section occasionally performs without the vocalists. It wouldn't be surprising to learn that some of these events were genie-bottle-openings; the three have a sultry sound that's hypnotic enough to turn the common club into an opium den. Baron makes like Mesmer behind her Rhodes, her electronic chords and scales warping the atmosphere into waves. Draper's upright bass lays down a cool, gutsy vibration—the dark roots underneath the frosted tips of Brewington's light-handed beat-keeping. A Black Blondie set works like a hunk of resin incense on a just-lit charcoal briquette; it heats up, begins to smolder, and then really starts to smoke.
The band books gigs with the excitement of a new kid in town who's finally getting invited to some really cool parties. A few minutes after White and Brewington list artists J*Davey and One Self as recent favorites, they reveal that Black Blondie will be opening for both acts in October. But if you go there, the merch table will be bare—for they have yet to record an album. They've worked out about a dozen songs, but want to expand their repertoire before heading in to record.
"We want the right studio, the right mix of songs," says Draper. In the meantime, it seems almost criminal that they don't have a licensing deal for a full line of Black Blondie apparel—with a name that catchy, fans will be running up T-shirts at home if the band doesn't start selling them.
And what about that name? After all, Black Blondie won this paper's "Best of the Twin Cities 2006" award for "Best Band Name," (This honor puts them in the questionable company of single-talking-point acts Cousin Dad and Happy Mother's Day, I Can't Read.) Well, last fall, White and Linton were having drinks at Café Barbette on a night when White looked particularly striking, her hair done up "in a 'frohawk, with a really wicked outfit." An admiring Linton exclaimed, "You look like the black 'Blondie!'" After the words came out of her mouth, "her eyes lit up with excitement," remembers White. "We knew right then, before we had any band members but the two of us."
She boop de boop. Oooh waaah. Oooh waaah. Dum didde dum. Oooh waah.
If only it were that easy for the rest of us. Politicians could use it in their stump speeches. Or it could come in handy for novelists trying to get through that key paragraph. Even journalists struggling to come up with the right lede could throw that in as a substitute. If only the rest of us could scat through life like the God Damn Doo Wop Band. If only. If only. She doobie doop.
When talking about the God Damn Doo Wop Band, people have already started throwing around the term "punk rock doo wop." Sure. Three women with suicide-girl tattoos in prom dresses, singing pretty harmonies, backed by four dudes playing clean, slow, and tight. But their lyrics, about crushing on bad boys, moody boys, boys who play saxophones, boys who stay, and boys who go, aren't very punk at all. The three girls, Carissa Coudre, 25; Saumer Jackson, 30; and Kat Naden, 28; all met while working at Muddy Waters coffee shop. When they're not working, they hang out and smoke cigarettes on the picnic tables outside. And they do other punk stuff like watch skateboarding on TV. And listen to the Muffs in their bedrooms. "When people actually see one of our shows it's like, okay, they're singing these sweet innocent songs and stuff like that, but we're not total fucking pussies," says Kat. When Kat swears, it seems like she's forcing it a little. She giggles nervously. "Oh, I think I used that one before." She takes a drag from her cigarette. "Sure, every once in a while we do the dresses and stuff like that, but the fact is that we get up there and have fun and are fucking obnoxious or whatever." That's why they're punk.