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Breaking: Vivian Girls

January 14, 2009 4:46 PM ET

Who: The Vivian Girls, three Brooklyn-via-New Jersey gals who went from forming to opening for Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo to landing on year-end critics' list in just over a year.

Sounds Like: With 10 songs clocking in under 25 minutes, their debut album is a flash flood of surf punk, girl group croon and heavy reverb. Inspirations like the Wipers, Nirvana and the Shangri-La's are evident on songs like the poppy but abrasive "Going Insane" and super-catchy "Where Do You Run To." "When we started out, we just wanted to be a really, really fast band with really short songs," guitarist-singer Cassie Ramone jokes. "That was our original game plan. Now we're trying to write songs that are longer than two minutes. We're aiming for two-and-a-half minute songs."

Vital Stats:

• Ramone and bassist Kickball Katy formed the band in 2007 after first meeting in high school. "We met at a Weezer concert," Ramone says. They recently recruited Katy's college friend Ali Koehler to step in as drummer. Cassie Ramone got her nom de rock after what she calls an obsession with the Ramones' Rock N Roll High School, while Katy's nickname has a more mysterious origin. "In 2002, I went to college and joined the Super Secret Kickball Society," Katy says. "But I can't talk about it."

• The band cites the Wipers as their big influence, but Cassie confesses that they are also inspired by Burt Bacharach. "I think he's the best songwriter ever," Ramone says. "He has this song called 'Make It Easy On Yourself,' which is basically the most beautiful song ever. I tried to him a letter once but it got sent back to me. I tried to get him to write a Vivian Girl song."

• The trio get their name from the author Henry Darger, made famous by the film In the Realms of the Unreal, and his book The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. They haven't read the tome, though. "I don't think anybody has," Katy admits. "It's 15,000 pages long."

Hear It Now: The band's current tour will take them to Europe and some unspecified summer festivals that shall remain nameless. The Vivians hope to finish work on their second album later this year. In the meantime, watch the band's exclusive performance from the Rolling Stone offices, featuring their new song "The End."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Love Is the Answer”

Utopia | 1977

The message of the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love" proved to be a universal and long-lasting one, which Utopia revisited 10 years later on this ballad. "From a lyrical standpoint, it's part of a whole class of songs that I write, which are about filial love," Todd Rundgren explained. "I'm not a Christian, but it's called Christian love, the love that people are supposed to naturally feel because we are all of the same species. That may be mythical, but it's still a subject." Though "Love Is the Answer" wasn't a hit, a cover version two years later by England Dan & John Ford Coley peaked at Number Ten on the Billboard singles chart.

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