Review 10 Part 1: Girls

Posted on January 8, 2012

0


Method of choosing: I stumbled upon “Vomit”, spent the entire song mouth-agape, then opened my treasure trove and ripped into the Girls folder like a hyena into a fresh deer carcass.

Albums available: Album, Father Son & Holy Ghost, Broken Dreams (EP)

Hypothesis:

So obviously I already know what their music deal is – haunting, revivalist indie-rock. And from the track “Vomit” I already know it has a dude frontman, unless she’s a post-op dudette. But otherwise Girls makes me think of Cibo Matto and other crazy girl groups. Umm, or they may be similar to Dixie Chicks. Their song titles range from the fairly innocuous – “Summertime”, “Heartbreaker”, “Just a Song” to not-so-subtlely lovelorn – “Laura”, “Jamie/ Lauren Marie”, “How Can I Say I Love You”, “Carolina”; and then there’s the teen angst – “Goddamn”, “Hellhole Ratrace”. Oh dear. I hope they’re not going to turn out mediocre one-hot-song-wonder.

(This is “Vomit” – I am not posting the mv cos it’s basically a car commercial.)

Actual music/ Post-listen reflection:

Ooof.

Any notion – any slightest, smallest notion that Girls might be mediocre is as ridiculous as saying The Cure is an ohhhh-kay band.

But first off, this is a sample of what you get when you Google-image “Girls Band”:

Fembot alert

Probably actual girls.

I found this under "America's Most Arched Backs"

In the midst of all those boring bullshit gorgeous-sexy-haawwwt pictures, you finally get a lovely, sun-dappled shot of the Boys:

The real Girls

Girls is actually two dudes – frontman/ lyricist Christopher Owens and producer/ bass player Chet “JR” White. Holy cow, Christopher Owens used to be in the Children of God cult, in which Rose McGowan and the Phoenixes (River, Joaquin, Summer, Liberty) were raised as well. The cult is creepy. And Owens’ backstory is here. You might want to be sitting down; it is seriously insane. He is an amazing individual who has been through experiences that can be quite accurately described as mind-blowing. He also says “like” a lot. Oh yeah, the other half of Girls is his best friend JR. Sorry, JR!

Album

On “Laura” Chris Owens sings, “I know I’ve made mistakes/ But I’m asking you to give me a break/ I really want to be your friend forever”. Simple lyrics; raw, heartbreaking emotion. Wow, I was too fucking touched to actually compose any sentences. Yes, I may be a big softie, and possibly slightly drunk, but you know when people mean what they say, and this guy is singing his goddamned life.

Lyrics are not exactly Girls’ strong suit, but only in the sense that they’re not particularly witty or poetic. The simplicity of their messages, though, is stark and leaves a strong impression.

Leaving an equally deep impression are Owens’ deep, haunting vocals. Chris Owens has a gorgeous, velvet and honey baritone – when he wants it to show, like in “Headache”.

I also love the gently, subtlely layered tracks, which reflect a surprisingly mature production for a new band. Due credit to JR. The music is incredibly versatile – JR has obviously mined many genres for his influences. “Big Bag”, for instance, makes a surprising turn into 1960s rock, Buddy Holly-style.

Nothing is ostentatious or pretentious – by the end of the album, what stays with the listener are the infectious, pop-ey melodies that the boys have crafted. That could be attributed to Owens’ stated influences, Michael Jackson, Elvis and… Beyonce. (Rock on, brother.) Also: “I also think the inspirational vibe of the Children of God’s music is still subconsciously in my songwriting, like the simple chords, lyrics and sing-along choruses.” (Owens, with Exclaim! mag.)

Broken Dreams EP

Christopher Owens (hand)wrote a press release for this EP. (You can get a free download there too.) “Thee Oh So Protective One” is delightfully 1960s groovy, I started doing the shoulder wave. Owens’ voice sounds lighter and younger here too. The trumpet accompaniment is JR’s clever touch. The rest of the EP includes soft-rock, shoegaze and alt-country. Its mood jumps from sad, trippy, reflective to sinister. That would be “Carolina”, which ends off the EP with a sudden gear-shift into moody, deep-beat country.

Alright folks, this temple needs to shut for the night. In the meantime –

Really cute, hipster mv for “Lust for Life”:

And much in the same vein, “Laura”:

Next up: Review for Father, Son, Holy Ghost and a buncha mad-awesome singles.

—————

update – Interviews with Girls:

Here’s NY Times on their album, uh, Album.

Here’s Exclaim!’s interview with them.