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Dame Fate

Dame Fate is a brand new DC all-female trio featuring bassist/vocalist Yalan Papillon, whose name somehow suits the band's music beautifully and who used to play in the Ohio outfits Miss May 66, Shanghai Lilly, and Avec des Papillon, talented guitarist Melissa Farris, late of the toothy pop-punk underground faves Tuscadero, and drummer Speck. Their press sheet makes a fuss about them being some sort of blend of The Pretenders, Bauhaus, and Nina Simone, which is intriguing to be sure, but while Papillon's throaty alto does occasionally recall Chrissy Hynde and the group's minimalist gloom is at the very least a distant descendant of Murphy, Ash, and co's jagged nihilism, Dame Fate truthfully doesn't have a lot in common with the legendary Ms. Simone. Actually, what Dame Fate suggests is late period Helium if Mary Timony had, instead of steering the band into her proggy world of fairies and castles, begun exploring the stoned sinister trippiness of heavy rock bands like Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, and Acid King.

This is a pretty good thing, and it gives Dame Fate an original and compelling sound. The trio delivers long dark songs, rarely at a pace that could be described as faster than "midtempo," slowly hypnotizing listeners with the considerable power of Papillon's gently sandpapery vocals of passion and redemption and Farris's layered, muscular, fuzzy guitar chords. Sometimes the group is forceful and heavy, as suggested above, sometimes gentler, achieving a glossy shimmering prettiness, but an inky darkness always cloaks their songs, giving them an appealing midnight strangeness.

Dame Fate formed in 1999 but didn't release a record until 2002, when they offered Time and Tide Wait for No Man, which they recorded in DC with Phil Manley (Trans Am) and Jerry Busher (Fugazi). It's only eight songs but nearly 40 minutes of satisfyingly inky melodicism, and a promising debut.

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