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Best of What's Next: Warpaint

January 26, 2010  |  6:00am
Best of What's Next: Warpaint

Hometown: Los Angeles
Album: Exquisite Corpse EP
Band Members: Emily Kokal (vocals, guitar), Jenny Lee Lindberg (vocals, bass), Theresa Wayman (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
For Fans Of: Bat for Lashes, Björk, Cat Power

“Girls tend to not take seriously the talents they could have,” says Theresa Wayman, one of Warpaint’s three frontwomen. “Maybe they sing or maybe they play guitar a little bit, but there aren’t many that want to become like Jimi Hendrix.”

There’s not much shredding in Warpaint’s electric ladyland, but there’s plenty of rock ’n’ roll aspiration. The trio’s dreamy shoegaze melodies are paired with post-punk dissonance and fueled by the bandmates’ pure magnetism and instrumental chops. Warpaint released its six-song debut EP, Exquisite Corpse, last October, then signed with Rough Trade mere days after the CMJ Music Marathon. Produced by Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante, the EP is rife with tension and intrigue, with vocals held back for minutes at a time as the band builds walls of tension rivaling The Cure’s Disintegration. “Beetles” captivates with Wayman’s rap-singing wrung through an effects pedal, and “Billie Holiday” sets the sassy soul of Mary Wells’ “My Guy” adrift in a slow churn of three-part harmony and Mellotron, with pathos enough to rip open tear ducts.

It remains to be heard how Warpaint’s full-length debut, due this spring, will compare. After three different guys filled in for founding drummer and bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg’s actress sister Shannyn Sossamon, Australian percussionist Stella Mozgawa will take to the kit for recording sessions in Portland this winter. The band also plans to try out drum machines, strings, piano and acoustic guitar—elements that don’t usually figure into Warpaint’s live show.

A few more rock legends will join Hendrix in their pantheon of inspiration, too. “We’re going to have Wilson-Phillips harmonies,” axewoman Emily Kokal jokes. “George Harrison’s ghost is going to tell me how to play guitar.”

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