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Pretty Girls Make Graves

Having come together in that infamously infamous Northwest city of killer needles, branded caffeine, illicit greens, spilling suds, carbonated punk, thriving anarchy, and irreverent, irrelevant, or dead rock heroes of yore, PGMG drops a debut stalked by assumptions and hype. Fed by interest in their hometown origins, their ex- or current members of status (Murder City Devils, Bee Hive Vaults, Death Wish Kids), and of course the Lookout! "sound," the jabberjaw frenzy has a strong basis in circumstance. But one listen to the aptly titled Good Health renders all of that a moot point.

"Speakers Push the Air" builds on a slight keyboard melody and then blasts off a nostalgia rocket. It's this year's punk anthem. Singing along won't be difficult by the time the chorus kicks in: "Do you remember when we couldn't put it away?/Do you remember what the music meant?/And nothing else matters/When I turn it up loud." With the help of Phil Ek's (Built to Spill) ultra-crisp production, the rest of Good Health immortalizes those sentiments. Mind you, this isn't a collection of anthems. "If You Hate Your Friends, You're Not Alone" comes out punching and screaming until the chorus pogos from your dancing feet out of your mouth, while the dynamic "The Getaway" expresses a honeyed sentimentality never compromised by ulterior motives. Finally, "Ghosts in the Radio" reaches such cathartic levels of release as to leave the listener ultimately crushed and converted.

Andrea Zollo's voice continues to draw comparisons to Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill) or Penelope Houston (Avengers), but she holds her own with her ability to be a seething heathen in one phrase, a teasing tramp the next, and a sweetheart in the chorus. In eight songs and a beat-box interval, PGMG creatively spans the range of modern punk with a reverence that's catchy as hell but never like some cookie-cutter punk you pick up at the drive-through. These songs are so tight and powerful, listeners will return again and again not caring where the band is from, only where it's going.

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David Karpel

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