MANDA & THE MARBLES Will you be their friends?
by Andy Wang

Manda & The Marbles

Sun Sept 7

Twilight Cafe

"I'm horrible at phone interviews,Ó Manda of Manda and the Marbles tells me, as if she feels the need to apologize for a phone interview that isn't actually going so badly. "I'm really shy. I'm horrible at social situations, at talking to people. They probably think I'm mean, but I'm just afraid. I just don't know how to start a conversation. I'm really bad at it. I'm sure people think I'm just this cold person.Ó

But when Manda sings, her often-hidden sweetness shines through like there's no insecurity she can't rock her way out of. She makes pretty epic music, for somebody with pretty modest expectations. Manda and the Marbles' latest album, More Seduction, is punk-influenced, power-pop bliss. It sounds like the Go-Gos, and it sounds like Gwen Stefani playing with The Ramones, but it mostly sounds like that dazzling soundtrack where Kay Hanley pretended to be Josie and the Pussycats. The music is playful and sexy, but it's innocent too; it sounds carefree, even if Manda herself is not. When I ask her what she wants from her band's current, first national tour, she says, "Hopefully, somebody will be there, maybe just one person. Hopefully, they'll like us and tell their friends.Ó

She sounds like she's not so sure this will happen, but her band, who've been bringing the rock 'n' roll fun in Columbus, Ohio since 1999, should give whoever shows up a lot to enjoy. Manda--who even sort of looks like Gwen Stefani--lives in a world where everybody has a chance to be a punk-rock prom queen; where a smooch is often as much of an end goal as it is a starting point; where the simplest, most obviously fun desires are also the most worthy. On More Seduction, there's a song called "Fast CarsÓ and one called "SexobjectÓ and one called "Seduction,Ó and Manda sings and plays bass and keyboards with absolute confidence, like nothing is more natural or right.