Best Band Gimmick (2011)

Cunt Sparrer

Looking for a gimmick for your indie band? Some musicians choose to assemble players with a glaring lack of musicality. It's what Long Beach band Cunt Sparrer did, and despite not being musical virtuosos, they display delightful ingenuity and palpable charm—and are a joy to watch. Comprising recent art-school grad student Jennie Cotterill, co-vocalist Sara Lyons and drummer Jen Kirk-Carlson, the trio lovingly rock covers of 1970s east London oi! band Cock Sparrer. With ironic abandon, they blithely retool such classics as "Because You're Young," "Bird Trouble" and "Runnin' Riot," using a panoply of quirky instruments from toy glockenspiels and melodicas to wheezy, flea-market keyboards. Fans expecting to see three Mohawk-donning bruisers snarling and sneering at the crowd will be disappointed. In person, as in their performances, Cotterill and Lyons come across as mischievously sweet girls from the neighborhood—though it's not all innocent smiles and sunshine. During an interview last year with the Weekly, Cotterill randomly mused on the soundness of interrupting a lover mid-coitus with frivolous questions. In the end, what comes across in Cunt Sparrer's performances isn't the tinny sound or the gals' occasionally colliding two-part harmonies, but their unwavering optimism and joy while playing cynical, working-class punk—perhaps the most impressive gimmick of all.


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