Nickel and Dime
Rather than infusing their modernized take on rockabilly with punk rock or Halloween horror, like so many 21st century ‘billy bands, Miss Derringer plays like a band that has ridden a souped-up DeLorean back to 1955 and come back to sing the tale. Led by Liz McGrath, who’s half Ronnie Spector and half Debbie Harry, the Los Angeles quartet bleeds songs about loving, losing, drinking, and dying — not necessarily in that order.
Winter Hill, clocking in at just thirty minutes, is chock full of everything lovable about the teenage music of the ’50s and ’60s, minus the naivete. On “All the Pretty Things,” a honky-tonk duet between McGrath and Throw Rag vocalist Sean Wheeler, McGrath’s character fights back on her lyin’, cheatin’ beau rather than wasting her tears on her no good man:
Don’t come on home then, babe/ see if I still care/ but if you decide to come on back/ don’t be surprised to find another man there.
But our fair front woman isn’t always as tough as nails. On the hip shakin’ “Black Tears” she cries about a lost love hard enough to make her eyeliner run, and sings about it with her backup girls. The men she sings about either have a “Bulletproof Heart,” or are all “Heartbreaks & Razorblades,” but still she pines for them.
More pink lady than poodle skirt, Liz McGrath has found the formula for bringing the girl group sounds together with the black leather greaser rock without losing its femininity. The Shangri-Las would’ve been proud.