Cut to the core: the sweet and the Splinters

Pub date April 11, 2010

Didja hear? There’s a mini-girl-band revolution going on. Embracing the rawest of rawk, the lowest of fi, the Splinters haven’t been lumped into the current wavelet of female-centric Bay Area ensembles ala Brilliant Colors and Grass Widow. And perhaps rightfully so. Gender aside, the bands are coming from way different places sonically. On its 12-track debut, Kick (Double Negative), the Splinters hew to the sweet harmonies of yesterday’s girl-group gangs, with nary a Phil Spector nor Calvin Johnson in earshot — though the spare arrangements and muy-primitivo grrrl-punk of “Mysterious” and “Dark Shades” seem more indebted to the K Kamp than any fortress built with Walls of Sound.

As an engineer, Maus Haus frontperson Jason Kick does a bang-up job of clearing the clutter, foregrounding the prettily droning harmonies of “Electricity,” and making the acoustic guitars glitter above a soulful bassline on “Sea Salt Skin.” Still, the pared-down aesthetic — not to mention the four UC Berkeley alums’ unpretentiously thoughtful preoccupations with such topics as girl-on-girl malice (“Oranges”) and the act of posturing beneath the heat of a gaze (“Cool”) — sounds like its all coming very organically from the Splinters themselves. Too few are fearless enough to write an on-the-verge-of-breakup song as bare-throated yet brutally honest, vulnerable, and unadorned as the guitar-and-tambourine-tinted “Sorry” — more power to the Splinters. 

With Psychedelic Horseshit and Outlaw
April 14, 9 p.m.
Ghosttown Gallery
2519 San Pablo, Oakl.