Les Hell On Heels - Les Hell On Heels (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Les Hell On Heels

Les Hell On Heels (2004)


Les Hell On Heels are a four-piece punk rock outfit out of Phoenix Arizona, featuring vocalist / guitarist Paula Monarch and bassist Chela LaRue of garage punks The Peeps (who, among other things, released a well received LP on Sympathy For The Record Industry back in 2000). Joining them is Tempe Tramps alumni Katie Rose on guitar and drummer Kristin Machynski (although after this recording Machynski left the band to be replaced by Jessica Roe). The band's self-titled debut is a rollicking half hour of well-written and energetically played punk'n'roll. This record has strong enough roots to please the rock historians among us but just the right combination of pop melodies to could carry it much further than that.

Hell On Heels are the protégés of sorts of Jeff Dahl, who recorded both The Peeps and Tempe Tramps in the past. Dahl not only has a writing credit on the 60s styled "Ain't So Cool," but was instrumental in hooking the band up with Bomp Records' founder Greg Shaw. The independent music legend commented to the New Times that he was "looking around for a few really special bands to get the new millennium going with," and that Hell On Heels fit the bill. Shaw's passion in talking about the band is infectious and knowing the details of the late label head's ambitions for them is bittersweet. However, after a few spins of Hell On Heels' debut their potential is obvious and it's clear why he was so excited to help foster their career. Shaw certainly roped in the right producer for the job with the choice of Jack Endino, known for his work with Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden and The Black Halos to name a few. Endino's efforts behind the boards have resulted in a suitably raw but decidedly modern feel. This has far less retro production values than much of Bomp's garage revival catalogue.

There's a definite Shangri-Las vibe at play here, particularly in the harmonies on songs like "Ain't So Cool" or the title track, but Paula Monarch's vocals are far snottier than Mary Weiss ever was. She's clearly inherited that defiant snarl from the late 70s punk scene in NYC. It's not too much of a surprise then that reviewers are dusting off names like Nikki & The Corvettes, The Runaways and Joan Jett before anything more contemporary. The resulting sound is a nice mix of punk rock attitude, swaggering garage-pop and classic but not consciously retro girl-group harmonies.

Les Hell On Heels is just a rocking good time. It's an all too short debut by a promising young band, but the definite beginning of something good.