Shrag
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Shrag

Brighton, England, United Kingdom | INDIE

Brighton, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
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This band has not uploaded any videos

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"Pitchfork: Shrag- 'Shrag'"

7.4/10

During the first wave of UK indie, Gang of Four wrote anti-love songs while bands like the Slits, the Raincoats, and X-Ray Spex rejected not only romance but also traditional femininity. In the Britpop 1990s, Blur snarkily claimed to see no difference between "Girls and Boys", and Elastica made sexual demystification a lot more fun ("You could call me a car lover/ 'Cause I love it in a motor"). Brighton's Shrag are a sharp up-and-coming poppy post-punk band smearing their own dark lip gloss on sex and gender. But you can always tell deep down they're looking for real, vital connection.

They find it in more ways than one on their self-titled debut album, which mostly pulls together songs released on mp3 and 7" going back to 2006, when "Don't Speak"-ably stinging breakup ballad "Hopelessly Wasted" made a few waves. More often the three-girl, two-boy guitar-synth rioters are more bellicose-- hitting the giddy stratospheres of early Long Blondes singles (minus the glamour) while tremblingly shouting down a cheating lover on spiky-riffed "Lost Dog", or holding a "long term grudge" on fast, still-furious "Long Term Monster". Shoplifting is hard on the unrepentantly unruly "Intelligent Theft", but bratty MySpace-quote pop sounds easy. The most divisive track is likely to be Kate Nash-conversational "Talk to the Left", a bare electro-punk update on awkward sex jams ("Did he really say, 'Baby, now I'm heading south?'") from the Au Pairs' "Come Again" to Art Brut's "Rusted Guns of Milan". "Cupboard Love" should get basement crowds belting out requests for W-2 information. You just haven't earned it yet, baby.

Like many of us in our increasingly autistic age, Shrag seek not just physical connections, but to participate in shared culture-- the essence of the English DIY movement. Even when they're talking about their bodies, Shrag use the language of fans. Love Is All-ish sax spree "Pregnancy Scene" is the best petulant protest against all our friends growing up and having babies since the Boy Least Likely To's "Monsters"; the only previously unreleased non-instrumental, "New Favourites", obsesses over a clique-changing best mate like she's a once-favorite band; "Mark E. Smith" is the indie kid's "Would you do that if Barack Obama was watching?". My absolute favorite song here, "Forty Five 45s", is a beautifully crafted, basically one-chord wonder sung by a narrator who'd notice every nuance in the mixtapes you give her and then be really fucking pissed when you take off with all her mp3s except Jeff Buckley. You could've at least left the Los Campesinos! zine.

Only connect? Not hardly: "Different Glue" grapples with groping strangers who will make you glad you stayed at home tonight. "Women get hassled at gigs if they're not with a bloke," Gang of Four's Jon King told critic Greil Marcus in 1980. The name Shrag, sort of a nice onomatopoeia for the younger group's tough-talking shambling, is also an actual English word that's obsolete. King's statement isn't-- neither is a good fanmade antidote to pop music that's some dying conglomerate's idea of how much self-expression you can handle. Things aren't perfect, but we've come a long way.

� Marc Hogan, March 3, 2009

http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/12723-shrag/
- Pitchfork


"Artrocker: Shrag -'Shrag'"

4.5/5

There's probably very little that discerning Artrockers don't already know about Shrag, such has been the coverage in the magazine over the last year or so. Yet the band genuinely deserve it, and this self-titled debut is the slow-coming climax of their anything-but-textbook first three years.

Collecting both sides from each of their first five seven inches, plus a couple of bonus tracks, SHRAG could easily have been a mere document, but instead coalesces into a furious and coherent whole.

Their first single 'Pregnancy Scene' opens the album, with an incredulous dissection of the physical state of being pregnant (�There�s something obscene in the pregnancy scene!�). From then on it�s a quick whirl through a variety of topics, including shoplifting ('Intelligent Theft'), over-garrulous sexual conquests ('Talk To The Left') and schoolyard bullying ('Long Term Monster').

The attitude belongs to riot grrrl - it's feminist but sharp, sassy but playful, the underdog but not the oppressed � and the music is similarly spiky, sharing a pop edge with Le Tigre and Comet Gain (whose drummer produced the songs here).

There aren�t many bands whose first record is also their greatest hits - so how do they get away with it? Basically, because they're very VERY good - Shrag are a shouty, stroppy, witty, ballsy, exciting and somehow familiar mess of The Fall, B-52s, Huggy Bear and Pavement.

Their fiery intelligence is uniquely threatening in a world dominated by dullsville NME bands; there's more of a sense of danger when Shrag go to the bathroom than there is in the entire mephitic stench of indie�s decaying corpse.

Live, Helen King comes across as a feisty cross of Violet Elizabeth Bott and Ian Curtis� younger sister, but on record she eloquently guides us through her hopes and fears. With another album almost in the can, the only competition they'll face for album of the year may well be from themselves.



http://www.artrocker.tv/reviews/article/shrag-shrag - Artrocker


"Uncut: Shrag -'Shrag'"

4/5

Post-punk pranksters engage brain while making racket
Brighton's boy-girl scuzzpoppers Shrag flash back to the heyday of such personages as The Mekons or The Raincoats, bringing analytical attitude to the debased trade of pop and serving it up with bulldozing portions of raw guitar noise. This dozen-song album is actually five singles plus a couple more tracks, but it all hangs together quite elegantly. There's a percentage of angular shriekness with yobby-girl vocals (like "Pregnancy Scene"), but even in the midst of a maelstrom like "New Favourites" the combo can unearth a nice dollop of melody.

ADAM SWEETING - Uncut


"Pitchfork: Shrag-'Rabbit Kids 7""

Brighton, UK-based quintet Shrag, like many of their 1970s indie-punk forebears, are one of those bands whose tunes and natural charisma could easily endear them to a wider audience, but whom the vagaries of record release dates, hype cycles, and airline prices have so far conspired to keep a well-loved secret. The shouty, synth-charged group's "Punk Grammar", from a compilation for a local club night, first appeared on our own Matthew Perpetua's Fluxblog way back in 2004. Two years later, breakup ballad "Hopelessly Wasted" made its way onto a couple of Pitchfork contributors' year-end lists. Shrag's 2009 self-titled debut LP, drawing mostly from prior 7" and mp3 releases, proved they had in them a whole album's worth of songs at nearly that high level.

New single "Rabbit Kids", due in December, is another fine chance to get acquainted with the band's charms. The oblique title and muffled production-- or is that just my mp3?-- again suggest the early English DIY movement. The surging boy-girl chorus and exposed nerves could almost entice you to visit MySpace again. We don't hear the full story, but the scene is one of painful departure: "Why don't you just stay?/ It's hard to see you fall apart that way." Little details-- "The hand in palm/ The coral dawn"-- help what sounds like personal heartache resonate for a wider world. It doesn't hurt that the song is bright, scrappy, and exuberantly melodic enough to rank alongside tracks by Love Is All, the Long Blondes, or early Los Campesinos!. A few more like this, and Shrag might break through yet, though you get the sense they're happy just playing in a band with their friends.

Marc Hogan

http://pitchfork.com/reviews/tracks/11585-rabbit-kids/ - Pitchfork


"SoundsXP: Shrag-'Shrag'"

If you’ve bought the singles, you’ll be familiar with most of the album (only ‘New Favourites’ and the whizzalong instrumental ‘Intro’ are new) but you really haven’t heard these songs before. Properly mastered, the album brings out every nuance of Shrag’s punk-pop and highlights one of their trademarks: the caustic, angry, funny, ultra-quotable lyrics. From the biology horror of ‘Pregnancy Scene’ to incompetent shoplifters (‘Intelligent Theft’) and empty materialism (‘Cupboard Love’), Shrag’s songs are a lyrical pleasure, none more so than ‘Talk to the Left’, a criticism of the over-descriptive sex-partner: “did he really say: baby, now I’m heading South?” The electro-synth-guitar pop music will set your heart racing too, with traces of Bikini Kill, the Fall and Comet Gain all noticeable as Shrag race breathlessly through ‘Different Glue’, get aggressively shouty and synthy on ‘Mark E Smith’ or show their more sensitive sides on ‘Forty Five 45s’. Ill-disciplined in just the right way and full of attitude, Shrag’s debut draws a line under a string of brilliant 7”s and leaves you drooling for more from the seaside noiseniks (and if you’re quick off the mark you can buy a personalised limited edition box to keep your Shrags in too).

http://soundsxp.com/artman2/publish/albums/Shrag_by_Shrag.shtml - SoundsXp


"SoundsXP-Pregnancy Scene/Mark E Smith"


Forget Lily Allen: Shrag's shouty punk pop noise is the feelgood sound of this summer. The five piece Brighton noiseniks give us teenage disgust at baby stuff on debut single 'Pregnancy Scene' - 'it's making us green/ makes us want to puke our guts up' - with girls aloudly shrieking the words over killer riffs purloined from the Fall's great pop-noir phase. 'Mark E Smith' is a love song to the great man, with more screamy vocals and a monster keyboard razz that cements the song into your heart. This is the greatest double A side I've heard in an age: Johnny Borrell would probably eat their livers to try and get a sniff of their effortless pop skill.

Ged M

http://soundsxp.com/artman2/publish/oldsingles/Shrag_3236.shtml - SoundsXP


"TimeOut-Shrag"


Let’s face it, 2008 was a pretty crap year for indie in Britain. Especially compared to the manifold variations of interesting, appealing and envelope-pushing noise coming from New York (just to pick a city at random), which exported MGMT, Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer and Gang Gang Dance. London labels, venues and radio stations, on the other hand, wasted time and precious, precious money on the fag-end of post-Libermonkeys indie ‘pop rock’, little realising that Mondeo Man and Punto Woman don’t buy more than two CDs a year, and they’re both going to be Coldplay.

So let’s hope that this year sees a few more esoteric outfits being given a chance to shine. Brighton’s Shrag, for example, are a band who are far more deserving of being judged on the quality of their music than the whiteness of their tight jeans or cuntishness of their pork pie hats. Quite simply, they write interesting songs. The result is like a less mannered, less retro-beholden Long Blondes, with more of an accent on attention to detail than would-be stadium bombast – utilising short stabs of strings and glockenspiel, for instance, instead of huge syrupy
drapings.

Their recorded output (mostly confined to MySpace so far) has suffered from budgetary restraints – live they sound much more uplifting, with their energy and presence papering over the cracks in production quality. Given a bit of time and help in the studio, they could easily polish up this material into some form of chart-bothering behemoth. Although it’s more likely they’ll continue to be ignored and end up nowhere.

Eddy Lawrence

http://www.timeout.com/london/music/event/127587/shrag-an-experiment-on-a-bird-in-the-air-pump.html - TimeOut


"SoundsXp-Rabbit Kids 7""


2009 is ending well for Shrag – a European tour, a new album in the can and arguably their best single to date. ‘Rabbit Kids’ is perfectly-crafted indiepop, less shouty and more melodic than previous efforts, and ultra-catchy. In the middle of winter, it’s like a warming slug of something fruitily alcoholic that leaves you with a golden glow inside. ‘Erratic Fictions’ on the other side is no slouch either, a touch of Comet Gain-y indiepop that gets all feisty halfway through. Standard bearers for sharp, smart and exciting indiepop.

Ged M

http://soundsxp.com/artman2/publish/singles/Shrag_Rabbit_Kids.shtml - SoundsXP


Discography

Pregnancy Scene/Mark E. Smith 7"

Intelligent Theft/Cupboard Love 7"

Different Glue/Lost Dog 7"

Talk to the Left/Hopelessly Wasted 7"

Long Term Monster/Forty-five 45s 7"

"Shrag" by Shrag LP (2009)

Rabbit Kids/Erratic Fictions 7"

Life! Death! Prizes! LP (October 2010)

Photos

Bio

“Brighton's boy-girl scuzzpoppers Shrag flash back to the heyday of such personages as The Mekons or The Raincoats, bringing analytical attitude to the debased trade of pop and serving it up with bulldozing portions of raw guitar noise.” Uncut

Formed by five friends in Brighton back in 2004, Shrag have come a long way from their DIY roots to flourish into a proper indie pop band to be reckoned with. Their second full-length Life! Death! Prizes! was released on the Where It’s At Is Where You Are label in October 2010.

With an exhilarating blend of dirty, distorted post-punk guitars, shouty boy/girl vocals and fantastic pop songs, Shrag bring us a distinctively British experience, drawing inspiration from the likes of The Au Pairs, B-52s and Prolapse. Whilst their songs have a certain melodic bounce, this belies a darker underbelly, with a wry intelligence, and references to surrealist film, literature and pop culture.

Shrag have built an exciting live reputation and a devoted following. Songs such as Ghosts Before Breakfast and The Habit Creep are amongst the live highlights.

The band have toured the UK twice with The Cribs, and last year with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. They also toured Europe in December 2009, played London Popfest in February 2010 and Indietracks in July 2010.

Their debut self-titled debut album was released in 2009, a compilation of the five 7" singles they had so far released. Fresh from his success with Love Is All and Comet Gain, legendary producer (and Morrissey drummer) Woodie Taylor, offered to mix the bands recordings. The album, released in the UK and licensed to Japanese label Knew Noise Recordings, was met with critical acclaim from, amongst others, Uncut, Pitchfork, the Sunday Times, and Artrocker, who assserted the album demonstrated that "their fiery intelligence is uniquely threatening in a world dominated by dullsville NME bands; there's more of a sense of danger when Shrag go to the bathroom than there is in the entire mephitic stench of indie’s decaying corpse."

The latest album Life! Death! Prizes!, once again mixed by Woodie Taylor, is considered by the band to be their first album proper, with a progression both musically and lyrically that will bring their unconventional sounds to new receptive ears. The first single to be released from it, Rabbit Kids, received numerous plays on BBC 6Music, where the band have also played multiple live sessions with Marc Riley. The song was chosen by Stuart Maconie and Mark Radcliffe to compete as a Single of the Week on their BBC Radio 2 show, and also caught the attention of hugely influential US site Pitchfork, who described Shrag as “one of those bands whose tunes and natural charisma could easily endear them to a wider audience, but whom the vagaries of record release dates, hype cycles, and airline prices have so far conspired to keep a well-loved secret”.

Shrag played a handful of shows at New York’s 2010 CMJ Music Marathon including an official showcase at Lit Lounge, Manhattan and a Brooklyn Vegan daytime party.