The Googe

While this band's name might evoke some nasty creature from the Lord of the Rings trilogy -- Gollum versus the Googe, anyone? -- it's actually the correct pronunciation of singer- songwriter-guitarist Denise Gouge's surname. The Houston-based act, which released its debut, Consume Me, at the tail end of 2001, is clearly driven by the vision of its leader. With a raspy, raw-edged voice that calls to mind a young, pre-peroxided, butch-cut Joan Jett, Gouge guides her bandmates from the ballsy rock of "Easy" and "Truth" to the contemplative introspection of "Send" and "Down Below," though she's clearly more comfortable with the former. More of the Veruca Saltish rock songs would have made the disc's title command easier to obey.

Denise Gouge is a victim of childhood sexual abuse, and while she leaps into her painful past on a number of tracks, she has enough restraint not to wallow in self-pity. "Don't sacrifice your pain / Doesn't have to be that way / Make it better," she implores on "Don't Send a Message" -- a bold thought that endless Maury and Montel guests obviously haven't heeded. And though much of the musical backing on Consume Me is filled with generic riffs and breaks, a number of postrecording lineup changes just might bode well for the band as a whole. In any case, Consume Me is a good start from a promising voice, one that probably rips it up better live than in the studio.


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