Weird At My School: The Like

Bands change. I accept that. In the ’80s, Bananarama went from being the haystack-haired girls who chummed around with Fun Boy Three and members of the Sex Pistols and the Jam to a bunch of tarted-up disco dollies—but I stayed along for the ride (well, until Siobhan Fahey left…). The Bangles started out as one of the brightest products of Los Angeles’ “Paisley Underground” scene. I still play their eponymous 1982 EP and 1984’s All Over the Place album all the time. Then along came Prince and “Manic Monday” and Susanna Hoffs’ oft-imitated sidelong glances, and now “Walk Like An Egyptian” is a go-to staple for any wedding DJ worth his or her salt. C’est la vie.

So when polka dot-clad UK girl group The Pipettes followed their smashing 2006 debut We Are The Pipettes with the news that membership changes were afoot, I was prepared. I’ve been down this road before. Alas, Earth vs. the Pipettes, the sophomore set from the act’s current incarnation as a duo, isn’t to my liking. (Although I am glad to report that former Pipette Rose Elinor Dougall delivers some lovely performances on Mark Ronson‘s new Record Collection.) With all due respect to remaining original member Gwenno and her sister Ani, if I want to hear second-rate ABBA, I have a whole playlist labeled “Eurovision Über Alles” in iTunes specifically to scratch that itch.

Thus once again I found myself with a hole in my heart where a groovy all-female band once resided. Enter The Like. Ironically, I’m discovering this Los Angeles combo after their musical makeover, not before; from what I’ve gleaned, their 2005 debut Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking? was a more predictable pop-punk affair. Since then, they’ve had some line-up changes, donned smart matching outfits, hooked up with the aforementioned Mr. Ronson — the same producer who shaped breakthroughs like Amy Winehouse‘s Back to Black and Lily Allen‘s Alright, Still — and adopted a more polished, garage-inspired sound. The results, Release Me, have helped me get over my post-Pipettes grief, and triggered many an impromptu dance party in the living room.

The Like is doing a short West Coast run this week before they head off to Europe, and I intend to be front-and-center for their Seattle appearance at the Vera Project tonight. Watch one or both of the videos below, and I bet you’ll be inspired to come shimmy with me. Unless, of course, you were already gaga for the Like the first time around, and think Release Me and the ladies’ mod new look is a harbinger of the apocalypse. Believe me, I can sympathize.

DJ El Toro hosts the variety mix show on Wednesday nights from 9 PM to 1 AM on KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle and His weekly rant, “Weird At My School,” (usually) appears every Monday on the KEXP Blog. Please follow DJ El Toro (aka Kurt B. Reighley) on Twitter and/or Tumblr!

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