Richmond band Doll Baby recently released their first EP this month, Polliwog, and it’s a blast. The three-track EP may be short, but it’s an assuring sign of great things to come from this talented local band.
Doll Baby, which formed a little over a year ago, consists of Julie Storey (vocals/guitar), Dan Kelly (drums), Eric Kelly (guitar) and Jason Snider (bass). Their sound so far resembles a vicious combination of brash punk and indie/alternative rock, with well-crafted melodies, personal lyrics and choruses that threaten to get stuck in your head – in a good way.
A polliwog is a baby frog, still in the development stage and not quite matured, much like the band itself. But if this EP is any indication of what’s to come, they will absolutely blow people away when they put out a full album, something that Doll Baby plans to do eventually.
While their 2015 demo is every bit as melodic as Polliwog, the EP strikes as a more serious effort, recorded professionally and featuring songs that sound more concerted and planned out. RVA producer Bryan Walthall’s solid production lent a different perspective to the band, who recorded their demo themselves in their singer’s basement.
Walthall, who launched his own music production company Stereo Image last year, has worked with a number of local bands such as Jackass Flats, The Southern Belles, Lamb of God, The Black Girls as well as bigger names like D’Angelo and Cracker.
The difference in quality between the studio recordings and the demo is stark, and though it was Doll Baby’s first time in the studio together, the process went so well that they knocked it out in one sitting.
“It went awesome,” Storey said. “It went really well. We started at like, 11 in the morning, and we ended at 2 in the morning, and we did all three songs in one day. It was great, just really easy. It was just a really nice, easygoing day.”
Because Doll Baby is very loud live (and after listening to the EP, you wouldn’t have it any other way), they wanted to capture that energy on Polliwog.
“We really wanted to make it sound like the way we sound live,” said Storey. “We’re really loud live. I wanted them to capture that heaviness,..with the demo, since it’s a home recording… it’s very soft, it’s similar sound but you don’t really catch a lot of things that you do [in the studio].”
The EP excellently blends Storey’s uniquely raucous-but-melodic vocals, Eric Kelly’s splendidly layered guitar tracks and the noticeably tight backbone of the rhythm section provided by Dan Kelly and Dan Snider. The EP starts out with “Great Divide”, a brooding and somber tune that showcases Storey’s versatile voice and introspective, personal lyrics, and hints at a deeper side of Doll Baby, with strings thrown in to add to the well-layered guitars and melancholy mood.
The next track on Polliwog, “Drift”, made its first appearance on their demo, but it’s reinvented and reenergized, making it clear that Doll Baby really shines in the studio. Driven by crashing drums, a thumping bassline, glossy but distorted guitar chords and soaring, rowdy vocals, it’s a fast-paced three minutes of what is best described as pop punk, with an extra helping of heaviness. It’s a nice jolt of energy after “Great Divide”, reminding the listener that while Doll Baby is capable of a refreshing amount of depth, it’s bread and butter lies in its special mixture of punk, pop and alternative rock.
The last track, “Little Kicks”, is the one that really stands out. It’s a short, brilliantly crafted track that is no nonsense from the beginning, clocking in at a little over two minutes. That means that every second of the song counts. Sounding straight out of the 90’s, it’s a catchy song that’s perfectly assembled, with a wall of distorted, fuzzy guitar and a rolling bass line. The vocals are pure punk on this one, with an awesome screech near the end that could put a screamo singer to shame. Short, sweet and to the point, it’s a tight, mid-tempo gem that is surely a killer live.
Doll Baby is currently on the road for a short tour, hitting cities like Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and even reaching as far north as Portland, Maine. When they get back, they plan to take a short break from performing to write some new songs.
Catch Doll Baby at Strange Matter on August 12th, along with Manatree, Solids and Teen Death.