The eponymous EP by the Albuquerque-to-Bay-Area trio Henry’s Dress (issued as a 10-inch with six songs and a CD of eight) is simple, gentle garage pop carpeted wall-to-wall with an excess of surly feedback. The easy tempo and the heavy guitar wash place the songs midway between Psychocandy, Loveless and some of the early Creation catalog, but the mass of sound often eclipses the fragile melodies. Amy Linton (who played drums in Go Sailor around the same time) and Matt Hartman seamlessly switch speak-songy vocals/guitar and drums, while Hayyim Sanchez is the mainstay on bass. The entire effort is likable on a general drone level, but the band’s real promise is hinted at only on an Amy-sung upbeat garage stomper, “(You’re My) Radio One,” and the sly and tiny fuzz-popper “You Killed a Boy for Me.”
The full-length Bust ‘Em Green is eons ahead of its predecessor, marking a much more distinct territory for Henry’s Dress. The feedback still lingers in places, but it’s been restrained to blend rather than blanket, a progression thankfully in tandem with the band’s vastly improved and thoroughly impressive pop instincts. There is a definite mod flavor to the record, with vocals more to the fore, rhythm that bounces instead of plods and songs that are so infectious you will ache with glee. The Paul-sung opener “The Way She Goes” is fantastic, cool springing verses full of “bops” broken by emphatic choruses. Nearly every song here is a gem in its own right — the modestly catchy “Target Practice” (great driving music), the delicate “Treefort,” the friendly storm of “Get Yourself Together” and finale, “Self Starter.”
To celebrate what would be the trio’s final tour, a Slumberland imprint released a split 7-inch by Henry’s Dress and Rocketship. The single is mentioned here because it contains “Over 21,” which is perhaps the band’s greatest song — an invincible, high-octane photograph of lust in the Bay Area indie punk scene. Following the band’s break-up in 1997, Amy Linton assembled the Aisler’s Set with members of Track Star, Poundsign and Scenic Vermont.