Beginning with their self-naming, Team Dresch celebrated singularity and camaraderie. Guitarist and bassist Donna Dresch was the indie-rock legend (Screaming Trees, Dinosaur Jr., Fifth Column, etc.) under whose ax they united, but they carried the ball down the field together, passing lines, leads and instruments back and forth. They were all experienced musicians – Jody drummed for Hazel, Kaia had been in Adickdid, Marcéo Martinez in Calamity Jane – and brought a level of serious musicianship to the primitivism of Olympia’s DIY scene. On their 1995 debut, Personal Best (named after the movie starring Mariel Hemingway), they raged against the Christian right and small towns, then kissed their girlfriends on the mouth. Dresch, Bleyle, and Wilson played ferocious, intricate riffs fast while Martinez hit the drums hard. Their lyrics cited the Smiths and Sinead O’Connor, patron saints of sorrow and suffering. To paraphrase their own song, they were amazing; their words saved us.
Melissa York replaced Martinez on Captain My Captain, pounding the skins even harder – and adding a level of NYC showmanship to the quintessentially Northwestern, T-shirted live act. “Uncle Phranc” kicked out the jams this time. The band was finding and creating community, elevating and becoming dykons. Already Team Dresch commanded a level of assurance and confidence, staying true to the underground’s autonomous spirit and dispensinguseful advice, such as “Don’t Try Suicide.” They released their records on indie labels, mostly ones they ran themselves, Chainsaw and Candyass. “Remember who you are, Make up who you are,” they roared over the noise of busted closets. Punk rock would never be the same.
Team Dresch broke up suddenly, its members going off in singles and pairs to other projects: The Butchies, the Vegas Beat. They reunited in 2004 and have played occasionally since, because music this honest never gets old. 2019 marks the first time they are flirting with the idea of being an active band again, look for more from Team Dresch as the year unfurls!
During the last decade, Aimée Argote has had more bands called Des Ark than she has albums under that name. She’s howled and jerked in sweaty houses and rock clubs, backed by a drummer, another drummer, yet another drummer and a second guitarist, and a small symphony. She’s brought big crowds to a whisper with nothing but her voice and a banjo or a tiny guitar that kept slipping out of tune. But, a stack of radio sessions aside, Des Ark only has one LP, 2005’s Loose Lips Sink Ships, and a collaborative split, 2007’s Battle of the Beards, to call its own.
Don’t Rock the Boat, Sink the Fucker—the band’s brilliant second LP, due this summer on Lovitt Records—makes up for the time lag and the lost members.
“On the record, I wanted to put on tape whatever it was that I heard in my head, which I can never do live. And that doesn’t matter,” says Argote, walking to her job making crepes in Philadelphia, where she’s lived for the past several months. “It’s my project, and I wanted it to be what comes out of me when I do it how I imagine. It was a fun experiment.”
The experiment took its time. Sink is a record of extremes—heavy and roiling during “Ashley’s Song,” twinkling and tender during “Howard’s Hour.” As such, Argote couldn’t do everything in one place or one room. She began recording the quiet tunes in Richmond, Va., in 2007, finishing just last year. The more aggressive numbers were recorded last May in trio form with guitarist Noah Howard and drummer Ashley Arnwine in Salem, Mass., by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou. The multiple sessions afforded Argote the chance to think through the material more than ever before.
“Usually, you get stuck on a part, and you just have to keep going,” she says. “Here, I had a lot of time to sit with it and wait to see how it would be fixed. So a year later when I’d go back to finish this song, I knew how it was supposed to sound.” —Grayson Currin