Monday, August 8, 2011

New Wave for the New Week #132

It's been somewhat fascinating in recent years to see so many bands from the Punk/New Wave era being the focus of renewed interest, often reforming and hitting the road to play before both new fans and those who were there way back when. 

Such is the case the Maso sisters, Caron and Michele, who, together with backing band Kip Brown, John Gerlach, Jeff Fair and Steve Sicular, were known collectively as The Little Girls.  The Little Girls became local favorites in the early 80's San Fernando Valley scene, and thanks to airplay on LA's KROQ had two regional New Wave hits, "The Earthquake Song" and "How To Pick Up Girls," both of which appeared on their 1983 EP Thank Heaven! ("The Earthquake Song" had already been available in an earlier form on the second Rodney On The ROQ compilation LP from 1981).

Treading similar musical waters as Josie Cotton and Nikki Corvette, The Little Girls' version of '60s-girl-group-inspired New Wave bubblegum was made extra-sugary thanks to the sisters' goofily amateurish yet somehow endearing attempts at choreography in their stage act.  Pantomiming the lyrics as they sung them, they had a routine for each song; decked out in outfits that might have been found at Pat Benatar's yard sale and backed by musicians dressed like extras in every early '80s movie you can name, they were undeniably of their time.  But the songs were catchy, the music was great, and if The Little Girls didn't put a smile on your face, then you had no sense of fun.

By 1985 their time had passed and the Maso sisters went on with their lives.  In 2004, The Little Girls reunited for a one-off show in Santa Monica, CA, which sold out in one night.  Realizing there were a fair number of folks who fondly remembered them, the Masos set about assembling and reissuing whatever material they could.  First up was 2006's No More Vinyl, which combined all of the tracks from Thank Heaven! with unreleased material they had recorded in 1984/85 in hopes of landing a full album deal.  Around the same time, they also reissued a collection of very early demos (circa 1981) under the title The Polodor-Cooper Sessions.  The following year, Ramo Records issued a 4-track 7-inch of the 1984/85 demos called The Clear Album, including their excellent cover of The Dave Clark Five's "Any Way You Want It" and the shoulda-been-hit "I Really Wanna Be With You."

All of those reissues are still available, but completists will want the recently issued pair of CDs on the Masos' own ValleyPOP RecordsThank Heaven For Valleypop expands on No More Vinyl with additional tracks, while Today...And Yesterday gathers more unreleased gems from the sisters' more recent studio demos (circa 2006) as well some nifty surprises from the '80s including an interview with KROQ's Rodney Bingenheimer.  Recommended stuff, guaranteed to keep you in a good mood all day!

For this week's NW4NW entry, here are both of The Little Girls' early hits, "The Earthquake Song" and "How To Pick Up Girls." Enjoy!

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