Washington's Teresa Gunn Group has taken a big gamble on its new "EP" by closely following the path blazed by the Pretenders. Gunn's aggressive vocals and taunting lyrics inevitably recall Chrissie Hynde; her six-person group plays a Kinksy brand of new wave that similarly recalls the Pretenders.
Surprisingly enough, this Gunn club wins its wager in a big way: The five songs are stuffed with catchy melodies and riffs; the playing is unusually disciplined and purposeful; the vocals command attention. Most importantly, all these elements establish a forceful, credible personality -- an achievement that separates peers of the Pretenders from the pretenders.
Though every member of this sextet contributes to that personality, Gunn embodies it: a tough woman who cuts through niceties and expectations to force real contact. She not only disregards established conventions, but directly challenges new-wave affectations on the reggae-based satire of "Sister Digs the Sharpies." The best songs, though, are on Side Two. "Baby, I'm Sorry," a classic girl-group plea, builds atop a clipped guitar-riff and a blaring sax in a Spectorish crescendo. On "Perfect Stranger," the band creates an unsettling atmosphere as a brooding Gunn wishes for true love and then desperately resolves to "spend my last wish on a perfect stranger." TERESA GUNN GROUP -- "The Teresa Gunn Group: EP" (Imaginary, 1001). Appearing at Friendship Station on Friday.