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Top of the Pops

32 Bleu visits the past and future



Dressy Bessy

There's something so lovely about an unabashed underground candy pop band that makes you want to snap your fingers and thrust your elbows. Being far from radio's musical Main Street means you're not obliged to keep up all the trends in hit-making overproduction, and being candy pop is, well ... there just aren't too many good-times la-la bands out there these days.

Dressy Bessy is one of them, retro to a point but just indie enough to be miles from vapid comparisons or contrived lineage making. After two full-length albums -- 1999's Pink Hearts Yellow Moons and last year's SoundGoRound -- and a recent collection of singles called Little Music that compiles their singles from 1997 to 2002, it's hard to believe the group hasn't broken through to a wider audience.

"We'll have the last laugh in the end," said lead singer and rhythm guitarist Tammy Ealom, who lives in Denver.

Logging more than 200 tour dates last year doesn't hurt either. Especially when you're on a record label like Kindercore, which doesn't have a lot of extra cash around for promotions, she said.

The group is currently finishing work on their third full-length album. Unlike previous efforts, which were all self-produced and recorded, the band decided to go into a studio in Queens, New York "and have someone else turn the knobs" this time. The album is due out Aug. 26.

It's been two years since their last stop in Colorado Springs, so come down and catch a glimpse of the Candyland of indie pop. This show should be sweeeet.

-- Noel Black

Gin Blossoms

How easy is it to make fun of the Gin Blossoms? I mean, they reached their peak (something like eight hits in about two-and-a-half years) of popularity a decade ago, at the height of the flannel wars; you're probably suppressing a Blossoms-induced chortle just reading this.

Well, shut your hole and hear me out: the Gin Blossoms are seriously incredible. Re-evaluate, friends. Go to the Independent Annex and pick up one of their piled-up copies of New Miserable Experience. I defy you not to be moved. Just in lyric-checking the first song, "Lost Horizons," I got a shiver. With pleadings to "Turn insect songs against the night" and being "Drunk in the gardens and the graves," the song's depression is so tangible and evident that Doug Hopkins, the guy who wrote it, offed himself back in '93, scant months before the group made the big time. He also wrote two of their other hits, the inescapable duo of "Hey Jealousy" and "Found Out About You," two songs that stand the test of time better than anything from that era (with the possible exception of the Counting Crows' first album).

New Miserable Experience's other big hits, "Until I Fall Away" and "Allison Road," were written by singer Robin Wilson and guitarist Jesse Valenzuela. The band was a cornucopia of songwriting potential already, not even considering that one of their later hits, "'Til I Hear it From You" from the Empire Records soundtrack, was co-written with the inestimable Marshall Crenshaw, yet another person your friends could torment you for liking, if mine are any indication.

The band members trouped on before, and, reunited, they've decided to troupe on again -- this time through Colorado Springs. They may be all over the Lite-FM stations with the likes of, you know, Bush, but similarly, The Beatles share a dial setting with "Love Potion #9." Context can be a grungy mistress.

-- Brian Arnot

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