Exploding out of San Francisco like a nitro-burning bullet train, the all-female disco-punk quartet Von Iva boasts a bona fide soul diva in vocalist Jillian Iva, a seductive presence who comes on like a charismatic combination of Karen O. and Alison Moyet. On Von Iva's debut six-song EP (available on vinyl or CD at www.cochonrecords.com), the sound seems a tad thin, but it hints at the exciting promise of the group's live shows.
With no guitars to speak of, the band builds its pummeling dance rhythms on melodies often played in unison by bassist Elizabeth Davis-Simpson (formerly of the band Seven Year Bitch) and keyboards player Bex. Drumming rudimentarily, Lay Lay von Guthier, not unlike Meg White in the White Stripes, lays down crude beats that ideally fit the low-fi arrangements. She's like an electronic drum machine with a glitchy power source.
Most important, though, is that the musical setting--think of early '80s electronic pop bands such as Tuxedomoon and Ultravox with a hardcore attitude--allows Ms. Iva to bellow, howl and wail in a bluesy and funky fever.
Tunes such as "Same Sad Song," "Solid Gold" and "Feel It" are stand-out rave-ups, but the record's highlight is "Soulshaker," which imagines James Brown (if he were a woman) jamming with the MC5 on catchy-enough-for-the-radio synth-pop in a New York City punk club circa 1979. It's that kind of sexy.