trouble dolls
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trouble dolls

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The best kept secret in music


"A&R Alert: Trouble Dolls"

At first glance, Brooklyn's Trouble Dolls might give the mistaken
impression that they're pure bubblegum-pop. Not only does the band's debut album artwork feature actual brightly colored gumballs, the second track on the disc is even called "Japanese Gum," and revolves around a sugar-rush repetition of the song title. But even if the contrastingly
mournful acoustic-driven quality of a song like "Something Blue Amazed
Me" wasn't enough to make the Dolls' dichotomy clear, when vocalist
Cheri Leone kicks off the downbeat "Invitation" with the line, "Fuck me
with no protection," one can't help but notice that half of those
aforementioned gumballs are smudged out. In fact, the sunniest, poppiest
moments here only arrive when guitarist/main songwriter Matty Karas
joins in the vocal fun, as on "I Finally Figured Out." While Leone
remains up front (for the majority of the time), through an impressive
stylistic range, the group echoes everyone from Mazzy Star to Blondie.
Screaming, cooing, bouncing, lamenting, embracing both the "art" and the "pop" in art-pop, it's time to welcome to the newest New York Dolls. - CMJ New Music Report

""Sticky" review"

(Half A Cow/MGM) * * * 1/2

Brooklyn's Trouble Dolls have recorded an album that at first appears to
be on the bubblegum-meets-garage end of the pop spectrum, but expands

And they've shown Australian bands trying to do something similar that
they need to work harder and smarter to stand out.

The Trouble Dolls mark out one end of their territory with songs such as
I Finally Figured Out and the title track (both head-shakers with cute
keyboard sounds), Japanese Gum and Your Love Is the Sunshine (a song
that's pure bubblegum and terribly infectious).

Then there's the opening track, 7:05, the neo-Go-Go's stomporama, with
singer Cheri Leone getting tremulous and the backing vocals working hard
channelling Heart.

These songs aren't hugely sophisticated, but they are hugely enjoyable. Yet bubblegum-garage isn't all they do.

I Don't Know Anything at All is just a damn fine song.

It hints at melancholy but doesn't succumb to it, its lyrics finding a
speculative love-going-wrong line over a background of an all-night news
broadcast of a distant war.

December isn't far behind it for quality.

Marcelle is the first song to suggest a familiarity with the mid-tone/mid-tempo songs of Aimee Mann, with Leone's voice hovering
tantalisingly near sadness.

Then Something Blue Amazed Me takes the Mann influence further and gives the album its emotional heart, with Mellotron and a quasi-George
Harrison guitar solo to flavour the resulting gorgeousness.

Elsewhere, there's the darker hue of Invitation, which starts with the
frank couplet, "F--- me with no protection/Kiss me with morning breath", and holds that note of disturbance beneath the dreaminess of the tune
until the end.
- Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald

""Sticky" review"

A semi-hip executive at the Cartoon Network seeks a PG-rated pop band
for a programme aimed at pubescent future Pooh Sticks fanatics.
Respondents include "Sticky", a debut full-length aglow with Juliana
Hatfield harmonies, handclaps and whatnot, where tambourines smell like
fake tan and gold dust guitars grin like sin. Rather disappointingly,
"Sticky" refers to bubblegum, not bodily fluids. Nevertheless, it
reminds executive of summer of '91 in Ramiro's van with Molly who
couldn't put her playfulness aside. Application accepted.
Shane Moritz - Careless Talk Costs Lives

""Sticky" review"

The Trouble Dolls Sticky CD (Half A Cow)... Terrific fuzztone bubblegum
obviously recorded in a haunted castle by brilliant, dangerous babies. - Scram magazine


-"i don't know anything at all" ep (la la la unlimited)
-"something blue amazed me" appears in feature film "pipe dream"

"sticky" cd (half a cow records, australia)

"sticky" rerelease (warmfuzz records, london)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Like many of our favorite bands, we were three friends when we started, and we weren't exactly musicians. Matty was reviewing records for music store kiosks, Michael was pitching television scripts at unamused Hollywood agents, and Cheri was designing television graphics for a financial news network that once invited Lou Barlow to play live in the studio as the stock ticker scrolled by.

Cheri played drums and Matty and Michael played acoustic guitar. For a while, our friend Andy pretended to play bass by plucking the low strings on his electric guitar. We got ourselves some gigs at the Sidewalk Cafe, home of New York's anti-folk movement, but we were never good at fitting into scenes and we didn't have anything against folk music anyway, and what we really wanted to do was sit at home and write songs and make records. (In case you're wondering: actual description of Trouble Dolls music can be found in paragraph 8.)

Our first one was called "Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac." We wrote and recorded the songs, designed a cover, and didn't tell anyone. To this day, no one knows.

We got a gig as the house band for a surreal radio drama called "Automatic Vaudeville" that aired once a month on WBAI-FM in New York. And then we did the soundtrack for a movie called "American Bohemian," written and directed by "Automatic Vaudeville" mastermind Tony Daniel. We even played "the band" on screen, and Cheri got to smoke a cigarette, 'cause Tony thinks everyone should.

Andy, the not-quite-a-bass-player, eventually moved on, and Michael sold a TV script and before you know it he was moving across the country to Los Angeles and buying mid-century modern furniture for his Hollywood bungalow.

Left to our own devices, we decided the Trouble Dolls would be a proper band, with gigs, rehearsals, a bass -- the works. Cheri moved out front to sing while making glorious squeaks and squonks with her collection of Casios and we found ourselves a real rhythm section (which, after a few false starts, now goes by the names Pam and Chris). We wrote some more songs and decided to make a record people could actually hear.

The "I Don't Know Anything at All" EP was released in 2002 on our own La La La Unlimited label. The title song became a major hit on MTV -- only Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River" kept it from hitting #1 on the "TRL" countdown. We were on the covers of FHM and Blender magazines, and the EP went on to sell 3 million copies. No, wait, that was Michelle Branch, not us. Sorry about that.

Our first proper full-length, "Sticky," was released in 2003 on the great Australian pop label Half A Cow (home to Sneeze, Smudge and Godstar), and later released in the UK on Warmfuzz. If the music press is to be believed, it was an album of "terrific fuzztone bubblegum" "aglow with Juliana Hatfield harmonies, handclaps and whatnot" that embraced "both the 'art' and the 'pop' in art-pop" and featured one "quasi-George Harrison guitar solo." It sounded more or less like "die Pandoras treffen auf die Bangles, die Go Gos, Shonen Knife und die Archies." We highly recommend that you do in fact believe the music press.

We are hard at work on album #2 with producers Ron Haney and Bart Schoudel, known to pop fans everywhere (or at least somewhere) as the Churchills. Once again the working title is "Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac," and once again we will probably chicken out.