Now is the time for Beethoven to get fucked. As a child prodigy, he was something of a fraud—his dad fudged his age by two years so he'd be more competitive against Mozart—and thus cast a shadow of suspicion over all god-gifted kids to follow, up to and including Wisconsin's Mystery Girls, who, it should be said, more than make up for all the bullshit Beethoven ever pulled.
A year ago, they were too underage to get into the bars they were supposed to play (funny because in their Green Bay hometown, they pretty much wean kids on Pabst Blue Ribbon), and everybody was still too chicken to go on after them. Now a few of them finally cracked 21, and their recent self-titled full-length is gonna leave your wanton ass spent and satisfied in the back of a station wagon with only a few ashy roaches to remember those band boys by. By 30, the same alien spaceships that came down for Roky Erickson (whose 13th Floor Elevators back-country fucked-up-ness is spread thick and sticky over everything the Mystery Girls do) and Esquerita and Hasil Adkins will land in the woods and take them away. So like any good rock & roll band, you may only get one chance to get some Mystery Girls for yourself.
TrickKnee Productions' Todd Kellner, who says the wee babes in the Mystery Girls still turn his 33-year-old punk rock self on to lost and undiscovered music, begged them to go in the studio for months. They finally showed up with five cases of beer—one per band member—and nailed 10 songs on the first take. "Their drummer is really impatient," says Kellner. "He kept screaming every time they had to wait between songs." The album couldn't be any rawer if he had taken a cheese grater to their knuckles: put it on, and you can feel the denim riding up your thighs, smell the stale Pabst breath clouding up around the ceiling fan, hear the high school girls barfing in the back yard. As anthropology, it's an instant party; as beat-down basement rock & roll, it's total voodoo.
They're an easy push to the forefront of the new off-the-radar garage vanguard, up with and maybe even elbowing past the Hunches, Piranhas, Lost Sounds, et al. There's a swing and swagger to these Mystery Girls that should have been dead and buried with 10,000 honkin' '50s-R&B jukebox singles, a boozy aphrodisiac drum beat that made Senate decency commissions sweat through their flannel suits. And it's so goddamn rare today to find it bursting wasted, yowling and naked out of a basement full of Wisconsin teenagers, a sure sign indeed that the lion is about to stick it in the lamb and the skies are gonna rain brimstone and dirty bombs. This is unprotected, adolescent sex and drugs right up every unsuspecting orifice you got: one way or another, the Mystery Girls will make you pregnant.
And how did it happen? Where did wintry, suburban Green Bay go wrong? Guitarist Jordan Davis spreads it all out on the basement coffee table: pot at 11, fucking girls at 13, acid and the Stooges' first album, Velvet Underground lyrics passed off as homework in high school art, John Lee Hooker as long as you've been alive, and five months of 20-below sunless Midwestern agony every year. The music takes care of itself: "Everybody," Jordan says, "goes insane for a while."
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"There's a place called the Blank House, just a basement in town," says Kellner. "They play there a lot—lots of bands did. They played with the Cuts, got really loaded and ended up playing after them, for two hours. They had five strings left at the end. And they were playing songs they had never played before.
"It sounds like chaos . . . ," he says, struggling as we all do to pin language to the transcendental. "But . . ."
But whatever, we interrupt. It sounds perfect.
The Mystery Girls perform with the Rolling Blackouts and the Cheap Lays at Alex's Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292. Sun., 8 p.m. $5. 21+.