Six feet underground: Pretty Girls Make Graves to play Black Cat

There are many types of music fans, from the MTV watchers to those who refuse to listen anything that wasn’t recorded at least 20 years ago. There is also a third kind – we all know them, and you may even be one. If so, I apologize in advance.

You know whom I’m talking about – the music fans who obsess over new bands because nobody else has heard of them. “They used to be so underground,” they say. “It sucks the mainstream is catching on . they totally sold out.” If you feel this describes you, please stop reading now for your own safety.

In 2002, The Associated Press included Pretty Girls Make Graves on its “100 Bands You Need to Know” list after the release of their debut. Two albums later, 2003’s The New Romance (Matador) rose to No. 15 on the Billboard independent albums chart.

Still with me? Good. In addition to the mainstream attention, the band has enjoyed rave reviews from all factions of independent culture – enough for even the most pretentious of music fans to pledge allegiance in droves.

Over two years since their last album was released, the Seattle power plant that is Pretty Girls Make Graves is continuing their auditory assault on America, stopping Thursday night at Washington’s Black Cat venue.

The group is an amalgamation of musicians formerly heard in some of indie rock’s most influential groups, distilled like a fine liquor into a concentrated neo-punk machine that’s impossible to ignore. Come to think of it, they’re more like cheap whiskey – tastes like a punch in the face, and makes you dance like an idiot. In a good way.

The New Romance was produced by Phil Ek. He worked previously with bands such as Modest Mouse and The Shins, but Pretty Girls Make Graves is a far cry from his down-tempo past. Ek somehow manages to fit the band’s undeniable musical proficiency into a shamelessly low-fi sonic explosion.

The band is led by singer and musical dominatrix Andrea Zollo, whose sultry voice emotes better than any screaming guy could hope for. Keyboards and handclaps collide with Michael Jackson-esque drum tracks and screaming guitars, and Zollo ferociously fronts the band with her proverbial middle finger high in the air.

Now the final touches have been put on their new album, nearly two years in the making, and Matador Records is planning to release it next April. Fans have been clamoring for a new album for quite some time, but setbacks have kept it off the shelves.

Currently untitled, it will likely be this summer’s soundtrack for air guitar players everywhere, assuming they haven’t already caused themselves deaf-inducing brain damage from excessive head-banging to The New Romance.

Pretty Girls Make Graves will play at the Black Cat Thursday at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $12.

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