The Total Bettys: Peach


The Total Bettys’ dynamic approach to music lies in the band’s unpretentious immediacy. Their opening lines bite with contemporary affliction and insatiable eagerness: Vulnerability dashed with chaos. Maggie Grabmeier’s powerfully uncompromising delivery eschews uncertainty. Above all else, the Bettys are a group of musicians who know what they want, and will splinter door frames en route to their destination. With 2015’s Connect With the Couch, Grabmeier spearheaded the band’s no bullshit ethos with “No Kings”, a song that is a true amalgam of passion, avidity, and fury. “I wanna get arrested together/I wanna get tested together/I wanna get lost in Amoeba/I’ll never ever buy anything” the San Franciscan singer sings in a matter-of-fact lilt. The band’s lyrics provide classic landscapes of disappointment, want, and carbonated happiness, all while rearranging those confessional truths into contemporary battle cries.

With their latest release, Peach, The Total Bettys — Grabmeier, Bri Barrett, Chris Nolasco, Sami Perez — reinforce their contagious and unaffected fury with a collection of songs emblematic of the band’s saltwater and Pop Rocks sound. From the very beginning of the album, Grabmeier tightens the narrative with a dichotomy of resignation and change. “I’m gonna buy a ticket/I’m gonna leave this place behind”, the Bettys’ singer asserts, ahead of a sublimely effervescent crashing of instruments. By the end of the four-minute song, the final words are delivered with a violent shrug: “I’ll fix it when I’m sober”.

The subsequent tracks on Peach expertly navigate themes of pain, self-deprecation, humility, bouts of strength, and throes of adoration. Pangs of self-awareness course through the band’s debut with a sort of serpentine ruthlessness. Because Peach‘s emotional transparency creates a palpable — and, most importantly, relatable — universe over the span of nine songs, it’s impossible to not become moved by the record’s deft humor and exploratory stories. It doesn’t hurt that the compositions are incredibly catchy, either.

Grabmeier’s astute ability to channel emotion with shades of disdain, hope, fear, and tenacity remain one of music’s best kept secrets (until now). There are few vocalists and guitarists who can create story arcs with this kind of command and nuance. With Peach, The Total Bettys have become one of the best bands in America: A roaring force of engaging instrumentation, unflinching lyrics, and the ability to re-purpose age-old emotions into fresh, sometimes playfully acerbic, storylines that feel fresh, irreverent, and unstoppable.


Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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