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Ear to the Ground: Sharkmuffin's "Quarter Machine"

This trio of badass women bashes out trashy rock that's equally inspired by Patti Smith, MC5, and Jack White.

Sharkmuffin is a hard-rocking, all-female power-trio hailing from Brooklyn —though you wouldn’t be the first to guess that this kind of decadently trashy rock ’n’ roll was born in the streets of Detroit. The distorted guitar that kickstarts “Quarter Machine” growls like it was forged from the fires of Jack White’s mind.

But the riffs here are also balanced with an old-school snarl that recalls moments of greatness from the MC5’s late, great Fred Smith. It’s not until guitarist/singer Tarra Thiessen takes the mic with a Patti Smith-esque swagger that we can hear some salient New York Groove. And then there’s that one-two punch of the rhythm section. Drummer Janet LaBelle pounds her kit with a ham-fisted, meat-and-potatoes style as Natalie Kirch reminds us that bass fuzz can be a beautiful thing.

“Foul Play” opens the band’s 1097 EP with a cool, piercing lead that stings like a tattoo gun as Thiessen channels a young Chrissie Hynde. At only a minute and 33 seconds in length, “Quarter Machine” also channels the power of 1990s riot grrrl luminaries like Bikini Kill and Team Dresch. “TEN TEN” is easily the most experimental cut here. There’s so much distortion, feedback, and delay that before the similarly short recording ends, you can totally imagine Thurston Moore knocking on the band’s rehearsal door with a contract in hand.

The amalgam of all these influences swirls into a sound that’s purely Sharkmuffin. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if they’re a band or a gang or both.