Miss Derringer
Gig Seeker Pro

Miss Derringer

Band Americana Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Miss Derringer Winter Hill"

The term "dress-up" tends to be used as a pejorative in indie circles, typically indicating an artist who seems to be reaching more than grasping. But Miss Derringer's custom duds are no more a put-on than Kings of Leon's Shaggy wardrobe or the Decemberists faux Victorian accoutrements. The L.A. band plays its parts to the hilt: A sculptor dealing in darkly whimsical phantasmagoria, singer Liz McGrath appears in a sequined baton-twirler leotard with a goth marching-band helmet and prison tattoo for the band's third and best album, Winter Hill, which is a change from the Weimar rockabilly chanteuse she played on 2006's Lullabies. Enlisting local designers like Adele Mildred and Winter Rosebudd, she's a West Coast Karen O, but aims for retro composure rather than punk disarray. The men who back her wear black as a nod to the Man in Black but accessorize like Mike Ness: matching wallet chains, western shirts, black armbands, heavy eye make-up.

To their considerable credit, Miss Derringer sound exactly like they look and don't need the look to sound good. Just as they mix and match fashions, they blend country, punk, rockabilly, showtunes, cabaret, and New Wave into a surprisingly sturdy and seamless sound. With faster tempos and more pronounced hooks than their previous albums, Winter Hill is a concept album of sorts about the Irish Gang Wars of the 1960s, when the McLaughlin Gang and the Winter Hill Gang made Boston a bloody battlefield. These songs are the band's playful approximations of what might have been playing on the radio as gangsters drove to hit jobs or slumped in their seats during stakeouts. Accordingly, the band build from period-specific sounds, but it's highly unlikely-- okay, outright impossible-- that James "Whitey" Bulger or Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi were listening to X and Social Distortion while whacking McLaughlin soldiers or laundering money. Perhaps because Miss Derringer are enough removed in time from their music heroes, they don't have a kneejerk reverence toward Carl Perkins, Lesley Gore, or Blondie, which leaves them free to compress half a century of pop history into short, sharp, smart pop songs.

On Winter Hill, Miss Derringer are witty synthesists. "Death By Desire" begins with a spoken-word intro and ends with some Explosions in the Sky guitars, as if girl-group drama is no different from post-rock drama. The chorus of "Bulletproof Heart" sounds like there's a skip in their Shangri-La's record: "He don't! He don't! He don't!" sings Liz McGrath, and you expect her to continue with "hang around with the gang no more!" Likewise, "Drop Shot Dead", one of the few songs to explicitly address the gang wars, (mis)quotes Roy Orbison. "I close my eyes/ And I dream away," McGrath sings with a sly hiccup in her voice, before the song rockets into a surf-guitar chorus that's one of the catchiest and most undeniable hooks on the album.

In fact, the fashion is inseparable from the music, not just as another manifestation of their influences but as an emotional scrim. Despite its period trappings, Winter Hill is a heavy, dark, and desperate album, and songs like "Mausoleum" and "Heartbreaks & Razorblades" have real emotional stakes. Consider the opening lines of "Heartbreaks & Razorblades", which McGrath sings with only a spare guitar for accompaniment: "We found him late last night/ Lying on his side/ With a note by his side/ And I try to block the sight from my mind." She makes it a very real moment, cutting through the sequins and make-up to invest those lines with a sense of real loss. Winter Hill thrums with chilly heartbreak that belies the liberties Miss Derringer take with traditions and influences, as if the only way they could address subjects so raw and painful is with lots of eyeliner.

— Stephen M. Deusner, July 27, 2009 - Pitchfork.com

"BUZZ BANDS Miss Derringer's woozy cabaret"

Like Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls, Liz McGrath is more of a performer than she is a singer. Her woozy, weary rasp is perfectly imperfect for Miss Derringer's cabaret- and country-tinged ditties as she narrates the band's excursions into the dark and the foreboding.

You'd almost think they were her words. And, well, they are and they aren't.

Her husband, guitarist Morgan Slade, wrote most of the songs on Miss Derringer's sophomore album, "Lullabies" (released in August on Sympathy for the Record Industry). But he did so "based, a lot, on things I told him about my childhood," McGrath says. "I'm just not very good at lyrics."

It's a circuitous channeling, to be sure, but effective. "Death Car Ride," "He Hung on a Sunday" and "Lullaby" hold up well against Miss Derringer's cover of Nick Cave's "People Ain't No Good." And the presence of guests such as drummer Clem Burke, guitarist Rick Ballard and singer Sean Doe gives "Lullabies" an all-star flavor. (Plus, Zalman King directed one of the band's videos.)

McGrath, a sculptor well-known on the city's lowbrow art scene, Slade and bassist Sylvain de Muizon have rounded out Miss Derringer's lineup with guitarist Bill Woodcock and drummer Cody Cox.
- Los Angeles Times


King James, Crown Royal and a Colt 45 (Sympathy for the Record Industry)

Lullabies (Sympathy for the Record Industry)

Black Tears EP (Stay Gold Records)

Black Tears CC/K remix (Stay Gold Records)

Winter Hill (Triple X)

Track "Black Tears" has been featured on TV show "How I Met Your Mother"
Track "Click Click Bang Bang" Will be featured in upcoming Suicide Girls movie

Both songs and other have received airplay across the country including Indie 103.3 in LA, WFMU in New York, KPUD Phoenix and 98.7fm in Los Angeles. "Winter Hill" reached top 200 college radio records when it debuted.



Miss Derringer - Winter Hill

The origins of Miss Derringer don’t begin in some alternate reality, set in a dusty ghost town with tumbleweeds, cacti and neon jukeboxes, blasting out The Clash, Johnny Cash, and the Shangri-Las. It wasn’t created in some Midwestern laboratory, fusing the DNA of punk, New Wave, Country, and Berry Gordy. Instead, it’s beginnings were much more humble, but no less outlaw.

Formed organically in 2004 when a wife (Liz McGrath, vocalist), a husband (Morgan Slade, guitarist), and his childhood friend/bandmate (Sylvain de Muizon, bassist) got together and started jamming in Los Angeles (rounded out these days by Cody James, drummer and Ben Shields, guitarist). Not quite a far-fetched beginning, but it’s no less quaint. Conceived at the halfway point where conventional rock merges with conceptual art, Miss Derringer muses on its namesake fictional character – a woman who is always on the wrong side of love and the law.

Inspired by the dusty vocals of ‘50s crooners and ‘60s girl groups like The Ronettes, Miss Derringer has a uniquely pop-melancholy sound that never ceases to explore how love can do you wrong. Their unique style and sound has earned considerable praise from the press with cover features in L.A. Weekly and Los Angeles City Beat (where Liz was voted "2008 Artist of the Year"). Pitchfork says Miss Derringer has, “the poise of a theater diva, the presence of a method actress, and the voice of a vamp surfer girl.�

Well-known in the art scene for her fantastical paintings and sculptures, Liz’s artwork are sweetly creepy and perfectly strange, posing as an appropriate counterpart to their music (she is represented in Los Angeles by Billy Shire Fine Arts and in New York by Sloan Fine Art). Morgan Slade is a photographer and illustrator. “I think that the ‘darker side’ is more interesting and people relate to it more,� explains Morgan about the artistic eye both he and Liz bring to both their music and their artwork. “I personally resonate with music and art that reminds me of harder times than celebrations of fun and happy things. So in that way, its not a conscious effort, its just how we end up writing Miss Derringer's world. Plus, Miss Derringer usually pulls through at the end of each song!�

The band’s visual prowess comes to life in their lives shows where the band transforms into a virtual performance art piece—costumed and coiffed. They have toured with Blondie, Bad Religion, IAMX, and John Doe.

Their third album, Winter Hill, stays true to its unique sound, mixing Western-tinged moodiness with New Wave accessibility. The songs tell the sorrow of a woman’s sacrifice amidst the uncertainty and cruelty of the infamous 1960s Boston-Irish mob war. Launching with the playful opening track "Click Click Bang Bang" with a propulsive upright bassline and Blondie-styled shimmy, the album kicks off with a 'bang' and doesn't let up. From the twang-fueled girl-group send-up "Black Tears" to the velvety forelorn angst of "Death by Desire" to the dramatic "Drop Shot Dead" (which could be a lost song from West Side Story), the album creates an almost visceral aural backdrop to a story that doesn't even really have a storyline.

Miss Derringer may be inclined to scribe and sing about outlaws, as they too are a band of outsiders—hard to classify, impossible to ignore.