‘Girls’ wanna rock

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Of all the noises made by patrons after a trip to Acapulco Deli & Restaurant — a bare-bones Mexican restaurant in Greenpoint — those of the Vivian Girls were surely the least expected.

It was in 2007 at the Manhattan Avenue eatery when guitarist Cassie Ramone met up with drummer Frankie Rose and, like rice and beans, an inspired collaboration was born.

“I wrote my number on a tortilla chip and gave it to Frankie,” Ramone told GO Brooklyn from a tour van speeding through Kansas, “and two weeks later, we had our first practice.”

Rehearsing in Rose’s Greenpoint apartment — nicknamed “The Orphanage” — and using a practice amplifier and the microphone on a laptop, the girls recruited Ramone’s high school friend, “Kickball” Katy (all band members insisted on going by their stage names) to sing and play bass, and the Vivian Girls were born.

Named after an illustrated book by deceased outsider artist Henry Darger, the group channels the sound of The B-52s, My Bloody Valentine and cult British rock band Dolly Mixture — shimmery, poppy rock gems — but has also secured itself a spot in the borough’s punk elite, playing alongside bands like Fiasco! and F—ked Up in lofts and basements from Bushwick to Bed-Stuy.

On Saturday, June 28, the band will play at Market Hotel in Bushwick with Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players and Belaire.

“Katy told me about them when they were first starting up,” said Matthew Molnar, who runs the Bushwick-based record label Plays With Dolls. “I didn’t listen to [their demo] right away, but when I did go see them on a whim, I was just completely floored. I was just getting my first releases together; money was tight, but I knew I needed to do a record with them.”

And he did. Last winter, he released the band’s “Wild Eyes” single — over 1,000 copies sold in the first two months it was out — which gave the band a chance to get their sound heard. It worked: just a few months later, the band released a self-titled album on Greenpoint’s Mauled By Tigers records, and the vinyl pressing (a CD-version of the record is slated for release in the fall) has already sold out. In fact, L-train rumor has it that the band has already been tapped by a major label.

“That’s actually totally not true,” insisted Rose. “I just have a friend that works at Matador…and somehow we started talking. We’ve been lucky enough to have a mentor over there, but it’s mostly just for advice. We’re such a new band that that would be kind of crazy, but maybe someday.”

For now, the girls are concentrating on other tasks. Katy is finishing a master’s degree, Ramone is just out of college and Rose — when the band isn’t on the road — spends her days working at a coffee shop. At the moment, the band doesn’t even have a steady practice space; they’re renting rooms hourly and sneaking in rehearsals where they can.

“We use art studios,” lamented Rose. “It’s not the most awesome, but someday we’ll have a solid space.”

In the meantime, the band has another single — “Tell the World” — which came out last week, and they have started working on a second full-length. Otherwise, like most other 20-something Brooklynites, they’re looking forward to enjoying the summer at haunts like Daddy’s, a bar in Williamsburg, or the McCarren Park Pool.

“I like sitting on the lawn in the summer and watching people with crazy outfits walk by,” said Ramone. “Either that or I hang out on Kent Avenue and look out at the East River.”

With a national tour under their belts, a slew of hometown shows on the horizon and records flying off the shelves, perhaps its time the Vivian Girls got used to people watching them instead.

The algo-rhythm

The Vivian Girls don’t sound like other bands keeping neighbors awake with midnight rock shows in Bushwick basements. They shimmer a bit more, they pop a bit more, they…can only be described through the musical-mathematical science that goes into The Algo-rhythm.

— Adam Rathe

Take the hazy, wall-of-sound wailing of My Bloody Valentine’s second album, 1991’s ”Loveless,” and add a pinch of…

the sassy surf-rock that made the B-52s self-titled 1979 debut — featuring songs like “Rock Lobster” — a classic. Mix with…

the fuzzed-out pop of “Last Splash,” the 1993 record that put The Breeders on the map. Shake well and you’ll get…

The Vivian Girls’ self-titled record.

The Vivian Girls will play at 8 pm on June 28 at the Market Hotel (1142 Myrtle Ave. at Broadway in Bushwick). Ticket price $TBD; at 8 pm on July 12 at the Yard (388-400 Carroll St. at Bond Street in Gowanus). Tickets are $10; and at 8 pm on July 28 at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (66 N. Sixth Street at Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg). Ticket price $TBD. For information, visit

Updated 4:01 pm, November 10, 2010
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