Q&A: Frankie Rose Talks C86, Vivian Girls, And How Making Music Is Sorta Like Painting

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A few weeks ago, when working on a feature about the Brooklyn indie scene and Simon Reynolds's new (and seemingly omnipresent) book Retromania, I had the chance to talk briefly with Frankie Rose (formerly of Vivian Girls and Crystal Stilts, currently of Frankie Rose and the Outs) about twee pop the borderline-retro influence bands like The Shop Assistants and Primal Scream have had on her own work. Tomorrow, she plays Glasslands Gallery with Montreal's Dirty Beaches, which makes today an opportune time to post our chat.


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CMJ Portrait: Vivian Girl Cassie Ramone

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photo by Sam Horine

Cassie Ramone
Resides: Williamsburg
Occupation: musician
Best CMJ moment: Playing Fader Fort with side-project the Babies
Favorite (non-CMJ?) band: Steely Dan

Take A "Bruise Cruise" To The Bahamas With The Vivian Girls

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Finally, the take-a-cruise-with-a-rock-band phenomenon trickles down to the Jelly Pool Party set: Mark your calendars for February 25-28, 2011, whereupon a "Bruise Cruise" sets sail from Florida to the Bahamas with the Black Lips, Thee Oh Sees, and, yes, the Vivian Girls aboard for your listening pleasure. This is a real thing, that exists, and we've got the snazzy promo video to prove it:

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The Backstreet Boys vs. The Vivian Girls: An Intellectual Summit

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The Vivian Girls. The Backstreet Boys. Both bands are on tour this summer; both have a penchant for wobbly harmony; both have experienced relatively recent line-up changes. For some, these coincidences wouldn't register, but for savvy Paper Magazine editor (and former Voice cohort) Elizabeth Thompson, it was enough to put the two groups in the same room, in the persons of Vivian Girls frontlady Cassie Ramone and her graying, gyrating counterpart, Backstreet's A.J. McLean. Ramone turns out to be a better interviewer than many of the clowns that write about her band:

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Vivian Girls Part Ways With Their Second Drummer

Let the Spinal Tap jokes begin: the Vivian Girls seem to have shed another drummer. It's their second after O.G. skinslady Frankie Rose, who split a couple summers back; since then, the band's drummer has been the capable Ali Koehler. Now, evidently, it is not. The band's publicist confirms the personnel change: "Fiona" is Fiona Campbell, otherwise known as the New Zealand-born drummer of Coasting (and, formerly, of the Coolies, which is how she originally met the other two Vivian Girls). VG are in the midst of a European jaunt right now (the plane rides have been interesting), and going by MySpace, Campbell will face her first test tonight in Dresden--though points to anyone in that crowd who can separate a newbie's error from the Girls' usual sprawling live cacophony. Koehler has been playing drums on tour for Best Coast recently--perhaps that's the reason for the switch? Update: It was. From Best Coast's Twitter account:

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Titus Andronicus and the Vivian Girls Prove Once and For All That Weezer Is How Every Human Under 25 Learned to Play Guitar

To review: Weezer's "Sweater Song" is your holy text; this howling, elemental singalong conducted by Titus Andronicus and the Vivian Girls's Cassie Ramone last night in Philadelphia will serve as your rites. That Titus's Patrick Stickles nails the solo note for note, and that he and Cassie are able to convincingly recreate the random dialogue that fills in the blanks between verse and chorus, should be all the proof you need that Weezer songs are as sacred to the young as Appetite For Destruction was to us, back when we were young. One of those clips that will make you envy people who play music for a living. [The Styrofoam Drone via Pitchfork]

Male Bonding and the Vivian Girls Cover Lou Reed's "Perfect Day"

Real shaky at the outset, but kind of comes around, in a fragile, maybe-they're-not-gonna-make-it sort of way. Shot for Sound Opinions at Chicago's WBEZ, the public radio affiliate out there. "It's about the day we had yesterday, a/k/a the best day ever," Cassie says. Can't say they don't mean it. [h/t Pitchfork]

Vivian Girls Played a "Nearly Acoustic" Set at SXSW, Thanks to the Austin Chill Wave

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Rebecca Smeyne
Vivian Girls

The biggest shocker of this year's SXSW was that it was bitterly cold in Austin on Saturday. Seriously freezing, out of nowhere, 37 degrees. The kind of abnormal Texas temperature that had yours truly shamefully wearing legwarmers purchased off the street (?!?) because this year's trip planning didn't include pants. The kind of wind-swept arctic blast that was, as Vivian Girls drummer Ali put it appropriately, "totally chill wave." And so after a morning of thunderstorms, Forcefield PR moved Ali's band Saturday-afternoon show indoors, inside of Ms. Bea's/Cheer Up Charlie's where the trio played an acoustic stripped-down set in winter jackets--not exactly the sort of garb that's made SXSW sojourns so famous. Video of the Vivs on Saturday doing "Wild Eyes" below, which without all the reverb, turned into a campfire jam. [On the Download/Boston Phoenix]

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Announcing the "Bring Back New York Noise" Petition and More Official Ambiguity on the Show's Mysterious Disappearance

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Seems we weren't the only ones wondering about the mysterious disappearance of New York Noise--even Ted Leo wants to know. The excellent local-music-video show on the Bloomberg-conceived, city-funded network NYC-TV--ahem, NYC life--that's been around for eight whopping seasons, and predates everything from Pitchfork TV to Black Cab Sessions, suddenly evaporated at the end of last month. Reruns inexplicably moved from Wednesdays at 11pm and midnight on Sundays to the zombie-zone of Tuesday at 5 am, the official online archives vanished, and the station declared the show "on hiatus." Not canceled, thankfully, just not in production. And even though there's been a massive personnel overhaul at the station, in the wake of a NYC-TV scandal last summer, New York Noise creator Shirley Braha is still working at NYC Media. Which brings us back to the original question: what happened to New York Noise?

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The Beatboxed Vivian Girls Cover You've Been Waiting For Has Arrived, BTW

Curiously, this was linked off the band's Twitter for a few minutes before being unceremoniously deleted. So maybe they don't like the cover? For reference, the actual "Before I Start to Cry":

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