Cheap puns take time. There had to be a word for “fear of mice”, but none of those that popped up in a Google search looked right, since they mixed Latin and Greek. A long series of associations finally brought me in the right direction: muscle => musculus i.e. little mouse hence from the Greek myo-, pertaining to muscles -and mice. Ergo: “myophobia”. Phew!

All that to casually mention that I saw Mouse and The Phobes at Luna Lounge last night…

“Mouse” is Miss Mouse herself (Week At The Lake, Owl Motel, Erika Simonian) on guitar and vocals, and Konrad Meissner (The Silos, Gingersol, Patricia Vonne, Tandy) on drums. The anti-White Stripes! Mouse strums her guitar in a way that’s reminiscent of Bibi Farber, with chords that feel slower than the song somehow, while her singing brings to mind Diane Cluck (but only vaguely, here and there). The songs sound rather plaintive and sometimes almost ponderous, while the drumming is vivid and always interesting.

The Phobes, from Washington, DC, on the other hand, flat out rock. My first inkling that I was probably going to like this band came during the sound check, when the guitarist would casually toss off little arpeggios that sounded very much like early Rolling Stones intros, stuff like Hitch Hike and the like. It then took only a few songs to convince me that this trio belongs -together with NYC local heros George Usher and Richard X. Heyman- in that category that I like to call “those great pop songs that you know you’ve heard before … except you haven’t”. Never more than hinting, never blatantly copying, they range happily from the Small Faces and the Who to the Ramones, with nods to Wilson Pickett, the Box Tops, the Animals, and the Kinks. If there’s one problem with their sound, it is that I keep wanting to hear a Farfisa organ surge out from a Leslie speaker, somewhere on the edge of the stage!

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