Six Degrees of Vivian Girls

Posted by Billy Gil, October 9, 2013 04:06pm | Post a Comment

Remember the whole Pixies/Breeders/Belly/Throwing Muses web of bands many years back? Or, more recently, the Wolf Parade/Sunset Rubdown/Frog Eyes/Handsome Furs/Divine Fits band sprawl? And let's not even get into Broken Social Scene. Well, none of these band associations holds a candle to Vivian Girls and the myriad bands, collaborations, side projects and what-have-yous that spring from the New York noise pop band. In light of recent release from onetime-Vivian Frankie Rose and the upcoming release by Vivian girl Ali Koehler in Upset, I've attempted to make a Vivian Girls tree for y'all. I'm sure I missed like 20 bands, let me know if I have!


Below is my attempt at drawing such a tree. I'll not try this again.



















Starting at the top, see if you can follow along ...

Vivian Girls

Who: Brooklyn-based band consisting of Cassie Ramone, "Kickball Katy" Goodman and Ali Koehler

Most recent release: 2011's overlooked Share the Joy. About time for more joy from these ladies!


1st degree:

Frankie Rose

Who: Multi-instrumentalist who drummed for many a cool band—the Vivians, Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls—and now has her own new-wave influenced project.

Most recent release: Herein Wild, released just last week.


La Sera

Who: Goodman's solo project, for which she writes cheery, if lovelorn, power-pop. Read my interview with her here, discussing Pussy Riot.

Connection: Katy Goodman

Most recent release: 2012's Sees the Light


The Babies

Who: Cassie Ramone's side project with Woods bassist Kevin Morby slings out moody, melodic numbers with vocals from both Ramone and Morby, like a Brooklyn X.

Connection: Cassie Ramone

Most recent release: 2012's Our House on the Hill



Who: Ali Koehler's band with former Hole drummer Patti Schemel, former La Sera guitarist Jenn Prince and occasionally Goodman on bass.

Connection: Ali Koehler

Upcoming release: She's Gone, due Oct. 29 on Don Giovanni.


Best Coast

Who: Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno's band, which has moved from Cosentino's very lo-fi home recordings to a full band. These days Cosentino's tales of heartbreak, California love and her beloved cat Snacks can be heard in high fidelity, sounding like a millenial Patsy Cline or Stevie Nicks. Read my interview with Cosentino here.

Connection: Ali Koehler, who used to drum for the band.

Upcoming release: The upcoming Fade Away EP, due Oct. 22 on Cosentino's new label, Jewel City.


Crystal Stilts

Who: Brooklyn-based band that makes dark-tinged rock 'n' roll—all low-end vocals, lo-fi guitars and moonlit atmosphere.

Connection: Frankie Rose, who used to drum for the band.

Most recent release: Nature Noir


Dum Dum Girls

Who: LIke a West Coast cousin to Vivian Girls, the Dum Dums are led by singer Dee Dee Penny, releasing noise-fueled odes influenced by girl groups and The Pretenders.

Connection: Frankie Rose, who used to drum for the band.

Most recent release: 2012's End of Daze EP



2nd Degree:


Who: Sandra Vu, whose solo project is a terrific bit of experimental noise pop—read my interview with Vu here.

Connection: Drummer for Dum Dum Girls.

Most recent release: the just-released Blood Tears



Who: Folksy lo-fi rock band with a Western tint. Singer/guitarist Jeremy Earl also runs the Woodsist label, which releases the music by Woods and other bands like, well, Vivian Girls and Crystal Stilts, plus Jana Hunter, Kurt Vile, Real Estate and many other goodies, and now has its own Woodsist fest.

Connection: Cassie Ramone plays with Kevin Morby in The Babies.

Most recent release: 2012's Bend Beyond



Who: Courtney Love's band, responsible for the classic Live Through This.

Connection: The band's drummer during its most popular period was Patty Schemel, who plays drums in Upset with Ali Koehler on vocals/guitar (and who was profiled in the recent documentary Hit So Hard).

Most recent release: 2010's Nobody's Daughter



Who: Experimental drone band that featured a who's-who of L.A. underground musicians.

Connection: Has included Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast, who played with Ali Koehler.

Most recent release: 2010's Make it Real


The Mayfair Set

Who: Dreamy lo-fi collaboration between Blank Dogs' Mike Negro and Dum Dum Girls' Dee Dee Penny.

Connection: Dee Dee plays in Dum Dum Girls, which had Frankie Rose as a founding member, who was also a founding member of Vivian Girls.

Most recent release: 2010's Young One



Who: Nathan Williams' project has moved from lo-fi noise to radio-friendly power-pop, with the same ear for catchy surfy melody underneath it all throughout.

Connection: Williams has collaborated with onetime-girlfriend Cosentino, who played in Best Coast with Koehler.

Most recent release: Afraid of Heights


3rd Degree:

The Soft Pack

Who: San Diego garage-rockers who sing about tallboys and dabble in mariachi, tropicalia and funk.

Connection: Drummer Brian Hill has been drumming for Wavves as of late.

Most recent release: 2012's Strapped





LA Vampires

Who: Amanda Brown's psychedelic underground house project.

Connection: Brown was in Pocahaunted.

Most recent release: 2012's Integration, with Maria Minerva


M. Gedde Gengras

Who: L.A.-based experimental artist/producer.

Connection: Drummed for Pocahaunted.

Most recent release: 2012's Test Leads



Who: L.A.-based alt electro diva, Diva Dompe.

Connection: Was in Pocahaunted.

Most recent release: 2012's Moon Moods


Blank Dogs

Who: Gothy synth-punk that sounds like a cassette left in the wash, in the best possible way. A personal fave!

Connection: Main man Mike Negro collaborated with Dum Dum Girls' Dee Dee on The Mayfair set; Dee Dee leads Dum Dum Girls, who formerly had Frankie Rose as a drummer.

Most recent release: compilation Collectd By Itself: 2006-2009



Who: S.F.-based dream pop duo.

Connection: Singer Tamaryn had a side project with Dum Dums' Dee Dee called Les Demoniaques.

Most recent release: 2012's Tender New Signs



Who: S.D.-based shoegaze pop dudes.

Connection: Singer Brandon Welchez has collaborated with (and is married to) Dee Dee Penny of Dum Dum Girls.

Most recent release: the just-released Crimes of Passion


Dirty Beaches

Who: Alex Zhang Hungtai, who makes music like a Taiwanese David Lynch, full of gritted-teeth vocals, rockabilly riffs and atmospheric dread.

Connection: Sandra Vu (Dum Dum Girls) has played for him.

Most recent release: one of the year's finest, Drifters / Love is the Devil


The Raveonettes

Who: Phil Spector pop played at maximum volume.

Connection: Raveonettes man Sune Rose Wagner has produced Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles, among others.

Most recent release: last year's Observator


4th Degree:

Maria Minerva

Who: L.A.-based experimental artist of alien alt-house tunes.

Connection: Made an album with LA Vampires

Most recent release: Integration, with LA Vampires


Sun Araw

Who: L.A.-based experimental producer

Connection: Collaborated with M. Geddes Gengras and Jamaican reggae group The Congos on Icon Give Thank

Most recent release: this year's On Patrol


5th Degree:


Who: Producer and electronic artist extraordinaire, founder of Leaving Records.

Connection: Has worked with Sun Araw.

Most recent release: 2011's Outmind













6th Degree:

Flying Lotus

Who: One of the biggest and best electronic artists around, responsible for a couple of masterpieces of cut-up hip-hop/jazz sound collages.

Connection: MatthewDavid did production work on Los Angeles.

Most recent release: last year's Until the Quiet Comes



Obviously this could continue forever, but we have to stop somewhere!


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Relevant Tags

Vivian Girls (7), Pixies (13), Wolf Parade (3), Broken Social Scene (9), Frankie Rose (8), Best Coast (41), La Sera (13), Crystal Stilts (10), Woods (7), Upset (8), Dum Dum Girls (15), Wavves (19)