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Sharkmuffin at the Rock Shop

Sharkmuffin attack! W’burg trio sinks its teeth into the music world

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Just like its deliciously dangerous name, there is a touch of sweetness in the biting sound of Sharkmuffin.

On the band’s latest album, “1097,” the all-female Williamsburg garage rock trio matches the minimalist punch of the White Stripes with the fuzzier side of the Cramps, then tempers it with some sugar via the group’s charismatic front-woman Tarra Thiessen. The raven-haired singer and guitarist cuts through the fray like a fin, with a powerful voice reminiscent of ’60s icons such as Mary Wells and Ronnie Spector.

But as confident as she is on stage, Thiessen said it took her a long time to feel comfortable in the lead role. Initially, she wrote all the band’s songs, then gave them to other members to sing. It wasn’t until 2012, after the departure of one such proxy, that Thiessen decided it was time she took center stage.

“I just got tired of it,” she said. “I figured I might as well do it by myself.”

Since then, Sharkmuffin has remained in constant motion. The group — which also includes bassist Natalie Kirch, and drummer Janet LaBelle — has released three short albums, with plenty of other recorded material in the works, and has generated a significant amount of buzz at both South by Southwest Music Festival and the CMJ Music Marathon.

The band will play the Rock Shop in Park Slope on Feb. 27, off the back of a promising jaunt to Los Angeles. While there, they spent some time working at famed studio the Record Plant and played the Unraveled Music Festival, where Hole drummer Patty Schemel sat in for an injured LaBelle. Not only did the veteran percussionist man their kit, Thiessen said, she was the one who first approached the young Brooklyn trio.

“She emailed me out of the blue,” said Thiessen. “It was, like, ‘What? How do you know who we are?’”

This flurry of activity mirrors the band’s rapid-fire music — on “1097,” Sharkmuffin dispenses with album’s four songs in all of seven-and-a-half minutes. This is no coincidence, said Thiessen.

“I’m incredibly impatient and have a really short attention span,” she said. “I want everything to happen really fast.”

Sharkmuffin plays the Rock Shop [249 Fourth Ave. between Carroll and President streets in Park Slope, (718) 230–5740, www.therockshopny.com]. Feb. 27 at 7:30 pm. $8–$10.

Updated 5:28 pm, February 24, 2014
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