Boasting a name that seems to have crawled straight out of a lurid pulp paperback, Pretty Girls Make Graves emits killer rock with a distinctly feminine cast. As Andrea Zollo's saucy vocals intertwine with the trashy, spiraling guitars of Jason Clark and Nathen Johnson, the band appears to be the sonic equivalent of serial killer Aileen Wuornos -- if she'd taken some women's studies courses and decided to collaborate with (rather than terminate) the opposite sex.
Since the release of a self-titled EP on Dim Mak Records and a Sub Pop Singles Club 7-inch last year, Pretty Girls Make Graves has built a heavy buzz around the indie-rock world. The Seattle quintet's live shows are wild affairs, pitting the taunting, staccato singing of Zollo against backup vocals by guitarist Clark, bassist Derek Fudesco, and drummer Nick DeWitt in a schoolyard-gang type of call-and-response.
Part of the noise surrounding Pretty Girls Make Graves concerns the role Fudesco played in the breakup of the popular horror-rock ensemble Murder City Devils. (The bassist left MCD in October, and the group imploded soon after.) Still, you can't blame Fudesco for wanting to ditch that crime scene: As charming as MCD could be, its schlock shock was often as subtle as a hammer. Pretty Girls Make Graves, on the other hand, concentrates on the unsettling power dynamics underlying female-male relationships (an approach borrowed from the Smiths, a group that is the actual inspiration for the band's name, according to Fudesco).
Pretty Girls' next release should be a real scream. Berkeley's Lookout! Records was so taken with the group's new demos that the label asked to release a full-length, rather than the scheduled EP. The record's April arrival should prove whether this musical relationship has lasting -- and blasting -- power.