"Spend the Night"
On the scale of female musicians who pose in their unmentionables, the Donnas fall somewhere between the Go-Gos, who graced the cover of Rolling Stone in frumpy white foundation garments, and Madonna, who used to wear that darn bustier everywhere. Most of the material on "Spend the Night," the Palo Alto, Calif., quartet's major-label debut, is gently leering. But songs like "Take It Off" and "Take Me to the Backseat" are more jokey than smutty; they're the musical equivalent of the album's back cover, which shows a guy passed out on the floor after the pajama party that's just beginning on the front.
"Spend the Night" abandons the sporadic metal forays of earlier Donnas discs to concentrate on the band's main dish, a Ramones-Runaways combination platter. The four musicians (who disclose their real names in the CD booklet) craft punchy, almost-interchangeable pop-punk songs that gender-flip Joey Ramone's early sensibility: Usually they don't wanna walk around with you, but sometimes they wanna be your girlfriend. One thing the foursome definitely doesn't wanna to do is grow up. By now, the Donnas are probably old enough to vote, but "Spend the Night" offers no evidence that they're prepared to swap lines like "I must've had too many Diet Cokes" for harder stuff.
Campfire Girls don't engage in Donnas-like shtick, and for good reason: They're not girls. The trio that recorded "Delongpre" -- as well as the current lineup, a quartet -- is all-male and bursting with folk-grunge angst. The original Girls actually coalesced in the early '90s, recorded a never-released album for Interscope and then split up, but have recently realigned. No wonder the L.A. band's style sounds a few years behind the curve. Such strum-and-explode plaints as "Little Wolverine" and "Motorola Casanova" are noisy, earnest and a little too redolent of the "In Utero" era. Perhaps the Girls' next album, tentatively scheduled for next spring, will bring them at least partway up-to-date.
-- Mark Jenkins
Both appearing Wednesday at the Black Cat with Superdrag and Your Enemy Friends. * To hear a free Sound Bite from the Donnas, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8105. To hear a free Sound Bite from Campfire Girls, press 8106. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)