Material: A sinister version of Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray, the group’s previous incarnation, this California-by-way-of-D.C. trio draws inspiration from the songsmith of Fleetwood Mac, with rhythmic cues apparently taken from punk-jazz mavens Last Exit. Sweetness and light meld with darker elements, organically shifting from punk swag to rock & roll chic. Lead singer Erin Frisby, whose vocals elegantly soar above even their heaviest passages, seems like an existentialist mash-up of Janis Joplin, Joan Jett and Satan, all the while peppering their sound with her unique perspective on contemporary feminism.
Musicianship: Although admirably skilled, FuzzQueen doesn’t exhibit jaw-dropping abilities. Instead, the group prodigiously compensates for this with precise, elegant placement of every note, transforming simple lines into searing bolts of lightning. Their disciplined unity highlights this strength, unfortunately hampered by substitute bassist Emilie Tollhouse of D.C.’s Kid Claws, who often appeared lost and uncomfortable. One could reasonably question whether they need bass at all.
Performance: The key to FuzzQueen is Frisby’s sparkling voice, her sumptuous notes made even more majestic by her mystical persona as she punctuated poignant passages with outstretched arms. Frisby also made time to state their name and note their merch table, which features “Fuck Trump” T-shirts. Regretfully underutilized is power-bearded guitarist Chris Stelloh’s voice, which infuses FuzzQueen’s material with a Southern rock flavor that boosts their range.
Summary: Considering a populace stung by our cultural shift toward repression and injustice, the time is ripe for an act that feeds upon that rage. FuzzQueen is poised to exploit that anger with their savvy concoction of influences and deft skills. Having recently released their EP, Xenia, along with a video for their single, “Sailing Empty Tonight,” they appear positioned to invade the hearts of activists in search of a soundtrack. Whether or not that happens depends in part on whether they can solve the conundrum of how to effectively employ a bassist. Beyond that stumbling block, their future seems destined for empowerment.
The Players: Erin Frisby, vocals, guitar; Chris Stelloh, vocals, guitar; Ben Tufts, vocals, drums; Emilie Tollhouse, bass.
Photo by Apple Kaufmann
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