For at least a handful of folks, this is a really sooper-exciting release.
See, Holly Golightly is just about as close as the garage-punk scene has to a diva. For the rest of us who are merely fans of great rock ’n' roll prick up your ears. Singles Round-Up is a chronological collection of Golightly’s 45-rpm releases, let loose on the indie underground on a couple handfuls of labels. Golightly, once a member of the Headcoatees (a girl band masterminded by Svengali Billy Childish), broke out on her own to carve out a track record of singles made up of lo-fi blues-punk tearjerkers. The singles were scattered like so many cigarette butts flicked from the window of a car hauling all day and all night cross-country. She’s either confessing that she can’t be trusted, damning the man who can’t be trusted or reveling in the during- and aftereffects of love gone sour. There isn’t a ray of sunlight between the record’s opening and closing tracks. But there is pleasure in the morbid nihilism of Golightly’s revenge fantasies and wicked curses. In this context, her cover of Lee Hazlewood’s “Lonesome Town” is utterly brilliant.
But the opening and closing tunes illuminate the middle enough that Singles Round-Up isn’t an unblinking testimony of bleakness. The opener, “Virtually Happy” (arguably the record’s finest moment) is as tough as the Shangri-Las, the Runaways and any other girl-group riot. A revenge fantasy of the most simple, seductive, tuneful order, it would almost be worth the price of admission alone if it hadn’t already turned up on a couple other comps. The closer, a cover of Pavement’s “Box Elder” actually manages to inject some piss ’n’ vinegar into Stephen Malkmus’ laconic tale of nowheresville.
There isn’t anywhere on these 24 cuts where Golightly gives a wink or hint of irony in the overt sense. She’s too sly, smart and busy crafting three-and-a-half-minute chunks of punk ’n’ roll gris gris to be bothered.
E-mail Chris Handyside at firstname.lastname@example.org.