Girlschool 2010 - Page 3

FALL ARTS: Fall is here, and women are ruling the Bay Area rock scene

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Grass Widow dodges rock conventions while making the leap to Kill Rock Stars
PHOTO BY JR TARANTINO

"We get offers to do cheesy things and we don't do it. We're extremely liberal punk kids, y'know," explains Scott, who sees all of her band's numbers as love songs, with a few intriguing angles: "Motherland," say, is "an overtly feminist song about solidarity between women," while "Absolutely Anything" concerns vaginal imagery in art.

Call Brilliant Colors' inspired tunes a true reflection of its music-obsessed maker: Scott studied political science and economics as an undergraduate at Mills College, and arts journalism as a fellow at University of Southern California, and she regularly writes for Maximum Rocknroll. She also runs a cassette label, Tape It to the Limit.

"You could say we're conscious of who we play with and where we play and what we say," says. That means saying "no way" to playing at chain clothing stores such as Top Shop, though she humbly adds, "I don't want to seem ungrateful or rude about it, but we want to stick to shows that are all ages and cheap."

Snackable: The Sandwitches

Give naivete a good, hard twist and you get something close to the rock 'n' roll-primitive originality of the Sandwitches. Little wonder that two of the winsome 'Witches, vocalist-guitarists Grace Cooper and Heidi Alexander, were once backup vocalists for the Fresh and Onlys — the Sandwitches' music rings out with the ear-cleansing clarity of smart girls who understand the importance of preserving the best, raw parts of their innocence, even amid the pleasures and perils of age, wisdom, snarking hipsters, and intimidating record collections.

One of the SF trio's recent tunes, "Beatle Screams," embodies that fresh, crunchy, approach: its lo-fi echo; lumbering, click-clack drums; and sad carnival-organ sounds are topped off with the comic pathos of girlish, ghoulish shrieks from the depths of groupie hell.

Live, the Sandwitches come across as offhand, upbeat, and surprisingly passionate, playing music that harks to lonely teardrops, mom 'n' pop low-watt radio stations, the Everlys and Gene Pitney, with a twinge of country and a dose of dissonance. The trio's recordings have a nuanced view of love and lust. They assume the perspective of infatuated naifs on "Idiot Savant," and warble "Fire ... I fill the room, I fill the womb," on "Fire" from the 2009 debut album, How to Make Ambient Sad Cake (Turn Up). Produced by the Fresh and Onlys' Wymond Miles, the new Sandwitches EP, Duck, Duck, Goose! (Empty Cellar/Secret Seven) plunges even deeper into the shadows, tackling "Baby Mine," Fresh and Onlys' honcho Tim Cohen's "Rock of Gibraltar," and other eerie lullabies with confidence and tangible vision.

The Sandwitches materialized two years ago when Alexander and drummer Roxy Brodeur began playing together. "She said she really liked the way I drummed and we should play music sometime," recalls Brodeur, who has also drummed in Brilliant Colors and Pillars of Silence. Alexander had also been playing with Cooper, and it seemed only natural for the three to join forces.

Brodeur was adept at following along: "I play to the vocals a lot, and it depends on the song because Grace and Heidi write in pretty different styles — with Grace it's lighter and jazzier and with Heidi it's a little heavier and thumpy."

GRASS WIDOW

Sept. 10, 7 p.m., all ages

Cyclone Warehouse

Illinois and Cesar Chavez, SF

www.myspace.com/grasswidowmusic

POSITIVELY TEMESCAL: THE SPLINTERS

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