The Girls!
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The Girls!

Columbus, Ohio, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Columbus, Ohio, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Pop Alternative




"Let's Not Be Friends Review"

Let’s Not Be Friends: LP
Not to be confused with the early 2000s Pacific Northwest band of similar but punctuation-free nomenclature, these Girls! are a Columbus sexy-tet—four-sixths of which are guys with beards and one-third of which are actual girls ((bereft of beards to all appearances)). Their music can be lazily described as “power pop,” but not of the stripped-down, kick-up-your-heels Nikki & The Corvettes meal plan—they’ve got a little bit more of a full-figured, breathy attack, with the usual guitar/bass/drum suspects awash in a swirl of Benmont Tench-like organ and such. Adding further evidence to the fleshed-out-ness of the band’s sound, only one of the album’s eleven songs clocks in at less than three-and-a-half minutes, whilst five eclipse the psychologically important four-minute mark ((important to whom, I am uncertain)). Song topics tend to hover around ex-boyfriends and drinking, as all the great ones do. Anyway, I put this album on at the tail end of a long night of getting wasted and listening to records, and enjoyed the first ten songs to reasonable extent. Then, just about the time when I was ready to brush my teeth and call it a night, “Sophomore” comes on. HOLY FUCK. Holy fucking fuck. Holy fucking fuckity fuck. Now THAT, my friends, is a SONG. If this song isn’t in commercials and teen angst movies and on TV shows and at least as well-known as “Johnny Are You Queer?” by Josie Cotton in a few years, then there is something horribly, terribly, insanely wrong with this world ((well, either that or the band fucked up and called a song that everyone is gonna think is called “Girl Parts” “Sophomore” instead)). I played it like twenty times in a row before I actually managed to get the needle off the record and pour myself into the sack. This song has reduced my critical faculties to the equivalent of a small plate of scrambled eggs! By necessity this concludes the review. BEST SONG: What the fuck do you think? “Sophomore!” BEST SONG TITLE: “Let’s Get Weird.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Exploding Hearts song title “Sleeping Aides and Razorblades” is etched into the run-off grooves on both sides of the record, leading me to wonder if it shouldn’t have been “Aids” and not “Aides” in the first place. –Rev. Norb (Self-released) - Razorcake

"Let's Not Be Friends Review"

Power-pop has always seemed to be the underground of the underground of American music. Full of things that lots of people love—that is poppy rock tunes and guitars—it nevertheless has had trouble gaining a foothold among music fans. Which is odd considering how many bands that have become popular have drawn either directly or indirectly from the genre. Then again Cheap Trick isn’t in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, so it may be a larger question. Luckily, the power-pop underground has soldiered on undeterred and has continually cranked out solid albums. Now adding to the canon are The Girls, a Columbus outfit who have self-released a debut album, Let’s Not Be Friends.

On Let’s Not Be Friends, the six-piece band is led by singer and guitarist Jessica Wabbit, sister to Lydia Loveless. One of the best conventions of power-pop is that it embraces the hooky earworm like a child clutches a binkie, and The Girls lean into those conventions. With more hooks than a hanger factory, every song seems designed to have you singing along by the time the second chorus hits. But it’s not done in a ham-fisted way. Instead, there’s an elegant simplicity and craftsmanship to making things work properly.

Lyrically, the songs on Let’s Not Be Friends revolve around journal-esque snapshots of unrequited love, bad late-night decisions with boys, and as the title track details, lost love. Generally speaking, things aren’t too great in the love department. And even when things are almost looking up on “Annie,” Wabbit has to deal with her own “Jolene.” It’s almost a relief when she finally dismisses a suitor with “Take Your Feelings and Go.” But there’s no whiny self-pity. Sure, there’s some regret, naked longing, and a smattering of sheepish embarrassment, but Wabbit owns the feelings. There’s a plainspoken, clear-eyed approach that neutralizes what could be an exercise in navel gazing. In a just world, these songs are being mined for mixtape fodder.

Musically, the band is as tight as the songwriting. Lead guitarist Joey Blackheart sneaks in some hard rock parts to balance Wabbit’s more rhythmical lines, while bassist Bent, drummer Big Nick, and keyboardist Ryan Vile provide a solid, nimble foundation for Wabbit’s Joan Jett, crossed with Pat Benatar vocals. Also props must be given to the background vocals of Raeghan Buchanan and Big Nick for giving the songs a gentle push into the sweet spot. With the amount of moving parts, it would be easy for any of these elements to be out of balance. Instead, everything sits in just the right spot. If the saying is that a band is “sitting in the pocket,” The Girls have set up residence there. Let’s Not Be Friends makes the dual case for the excellence of The Girls and the power of power-pop. - Agit Reader

"The Girls! make heartbreak sound exhilarating on Let's Not Be Friends"

Local power-pop collective The Girls! has a way of making heartbreak sound exhilarating on its long-gestating debut, Let’s Not Be Friends.

Throughout, frontwoman Jessica Wabbit wavers between clutching tight to the last vestiges of a relationship fallen to pieces (“The doctor came to me/And said little girl there’s nothing I can give you that will get him out of your dreams”) and finally cutting the cord that keeps the two tethered (“Honey, there’s the door/Take your feelings and go”). But no matter how bruised the singer’s admissions, the six-piece never pauses for reflection, laying down an infectious musical backdrop awash in dancing basslines, shimmering guitars and vocal choruses so soaring it’s easy to imagine teenage girls (and guys) singing them into their hairbrushes in bedrooms all across the city.

In an early March phone interview, Wabbit, 27, said the band’s music is in many ways a reflection of her own personality. Though outwardly optimistic (“I’m kind of up all of the time,” the singer said), she also admitted to being a bit of a brooder prone to dwelling on more depressive thoughts — characteristics that tend to spill over into her songwriting.

“It’s honestly just the way my brain works,” she said. “[With] the song ‘Keys to Your House,’ I was feeling sad and thinking about a breakup, but then I was driving to work and this catchy thing just popped into my head.”

Many of the songs on Let’s Not Be Friends, which was laid to tape at Relay Recording in January 2013, date back to the band’s 2011 formation, when Wabbit was still grieving the end of a romantic relationship.

“I was just kind of sitting on my porch and feeling sorry for myself and writing love songs,” said Wabbit, who is joined in the band by longtime friends Joey Blackheart (guitar), Raeghan Savage (percussion), Ryan Vile (keyboard), Big Nick (drums) and Bent (bass). “At the time, it was like I was singing directly to [my ex] and trying to get his attention, or at least trying to get across how sad I was to everybody else. I really had a chip on my shoulder about the whole thing.”

By the time the crew hit the recording studio, however, this chip had been all but obliterated, and the musicians threw themselves into the album’s creation with a relentlessness that, at times, bordered on reckless.

“We were recording [‘Laney’], and my high E string cut my finger open and we just kept on playing because nobody noticed I was gushing blood all over everything,” said Wabbit, who grew up in a musical family (her sisters are Lydia Loveless and Eleanor Sinacola of Dead Girlfriends) and wrote her first songs at the age of 13. “We just blasted through the song, and that was the take we ended up using. That’s pretty similar to the way everything was recorded, like, ‘We’re doing these songs! Yeah! Let’s do it!’”

It turns out keeping things light is rarely an issue within The Girls! The band’s concerts tend to evolve into boozy free-for-alls, and rehearsals are filled with all manner of sarcastic asides and weathered in-jokes. Whenever the group runs through “Get Out of My Dreams” in rehearsals, for example, someone will always chime in with an adlibbed line sung to the tune of Billy Ocean’s “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car.”

“Inevitably someone will go, [sings] ‘Get out of my dreams, and into my butt’ or something childish and juvenile,” Wabbit said, her deadpan tone suggesting she’d heard the joke a few times too many. “It’s hilarious. It never gets old.”

This sense of playfulness, groan-inducing as it might be at times, has further helped the singer distance herself from the music’s pained roots — a realization she came to recently when she sat down alone and played her way through the album in its entirety.

“I was playing [the songs] to reconnect myself with what I was feeling at the time … because it’s been so long since I wrote them,” she said. “Obviously when you break up with somebody it always hurts a little, but I’m not really sad about that stuff anymore, except maybe vaguely. Now I just play them because they’re my songs and they’re good.” - The Alive

"Local Limelight | The Girls!"

MEMBERS »Big Nick (drums, vocals); Ryan Vile (keyboard, vocals); Ben Larson (bass); Jessica Wabbit (vocals, guitar); Raeghan Buchanan (vocals, percussion); and Joey Blackheart (guitar)
STYLE » “garage pop”
CONCERT » 9 p.m. Friday at Skully’s Music-Diner, 1151N. High St.

With song titles such as Let’s Get Weird and Let’s Not Be Friends — as well as an exclamation-point-laced moniker — the Girls! are a model of contrasts.

“The songs themselves sound happy,” said the 25-year-old Columbus frontwoman known onstage as Jessica Wabbit (aka Jessica Ankrom), “but if you listen to the lyrics, there is a lot of tragedy and confusion in them.”

The older sister of acclaimed country-punk songwriter Lydia Loveless, Ankrom spoke more about the group, which is set to perform Friday as part of the annual Columbus Rocks the Cure fundraiser to help defray living expenses for central Ohioans with cancer.

The band expects to release an album in the fall.

Q How did the ensemble form?

A We were friends and going through hard times. We were hanging out and realized that we had some amazing songs between us, so we felt almost obligated to start a band.

Q How would you describe your music?

A A mixture of ’60s pop music with a lot of other influences.

Q What’s the reason behind the exclamation point?

A There isn’t one; Ryan put it there. He has a nerdy explanation that no one understands.

Q Who inspires your work?

A Paul Collins, Blondie, Clint Eastwood and bourbon.

Q Why should someone see your band in concert?

A Everyone dances. Everyone smiles.

— Kevin Joy  

@kevjoy  - Columbus Dispatch

"Bands to Watch 2013: The Girls!"

Forget derechos. The most powerful storm to sweep through Columbus last year was a blustery, boozed-up, ridiculously catchy combo spawned from years-old friendships forged in scrubby punk-rock bars.

The Girls! shambled into venue after venue flaunting their well-honed power-pop acumen and even-better-honed revelry. (Occasionally, this involved getting everybody within earshot to strip down to their underwear.) As presented on last year’s debut 7-inch and the album they started this month, they specialize in “songs about drinking and ex-boyfriends.”

Miniature firebrand singer/guitarist Jessica Wabbit has plenty of experience with all that. As a teen, she played with her sisters (rising alt-country star Lydia Loveless and Dead Girlfriends rocker Eleanor Sinacola) in New Wave group Carson Drew, launching her into the punk scene young.

“A lot of my lyrics are really tragic, and a lot of it was just from a lot of disappointment from hanging out in that scene,” said Wabbit, 26. “It’s funny how poppy the music turned out sounding versus like how I actually felt when I was writing it.”

Maybe, but given Wabbit’s penchant for hooks, The Girls!’ tendency toward melody was practically preordained, especially considering the buoyant camaraderie among her bandmates.

Their number includes guitarist Joey Blackheart, whose appearance — scraggly hair, sleeveless jacket, demonic chest tattoo — belies his melodious touch. Ryan Vile, who wears The Girls!-emblazoned Converse All-Stars, plays keyboards. Big Nick got a “drum ogre” T-shirt for Christmas; he didn’t ask for it, but it fits. Bent plays bass economically and enigmatically.

Then there’s tambourine shaker and human exclamation point Raeghan Buchanan. (“I’m an extrovert,” Buchanan explains.) Before joining, she partied hard at every show, making her a perfect fit for a band designed to be unpretentious.

“There’s a lot of pressure on female musicians to be cool — either that or they’re dating somebody that’s in the band, or they have to be extraordinarily physically attractive,” Wabbit said. “I wanted it to be a liberating experience for girls… So that was deliberate somewhat on my part.

“And then other than that, we’re just having a blast playing.” - The Alive

"Sensory Overload: The Girls!"

The first thing you notice about The Girls! is Raeghan Buchanan bouncing and twisting with her tambourine. Feasibly, this band could exist without her, but no one wants that. Buchanan brings the party. She’s something like Pavement’s wild-eyed percussionist hype man Bob Nastanovich, only if Nastanovich was a hot punk girl with tattoos coming out of her dress from all directions. It adds a lot.

Not that Jessica Wabbit requires such a sidekick. The Girls!’ big-bespectacled leading lady powered through Sunday’s Andymanathon benefit at The Bluestone with a fierceness that belies her pint-sized stature. The girl can hit the high notes.

Besides her preternatural vocal powers, she’s responsible for revelatory New Wave-indebted pop-punk songs propelled by sharp melodies and even sharper barbs (“I mistook you for a man/ You mistook me for a lady”). Her songs amble along then explode — sometimes into humongous choruses, sometimes whiplash-inducing tempo changes. Sometimes both.

It seems unfair to compare Wabbit’s songwriting to her better-known sister (and former Carson Drew bandmate) Lydia Loveless, but there is a resemblance. They work with different sonic palettes, but both are adept at communicating bitter longings and spiteful wrath with the sweetest of chasers.

Booze seems like a fine metaphor for Wabbit’s compositions considering there’s nothing metaphorical about The Girls!’ fondness for booze. Their friendship was forged over many nights in punk dives like Bernie’s, where they comingled for years before congealing into one of the city’s best bands.

It’s how an infectious pop combo ended up with a guitarist who looks like he belongs in a metal band. Joey Blackheart’s demonic chest piece and pot belly loom behind his open sleeveless leather jacket and scraggly black locks. He frequently leans back and points his guitar to the heavens. Still, his lead lines were pure pop.

So were Ryan Vile’s keyboard parts, which really shined during The Girls!’ cover of Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me.” Big Nick on drums knew just when to kick the songs into a higher gear. Bent, the bassist, mostly held it down in the shadows.

Sunday, they panned garage-pop gold from a steady stream of controlled chaos. Their crew is motely, yes, but colorful and promising too. - The Alive

"Top Tens from MRR #376 • Sept 2014"

Kenny Kaos
CIRCLE JERKS-Wild in the Streets-LP
THE GIRLST-Let’s Not Be Friends-LP
MARY MONDAY AND THE BITCHES-I Gave My Punk Jacket to Rickie/Popgun-45
THE AR-KAICS-Why Should I?/Slave to Her Lies-45
MANATEES-Seek Help-45
THE ACHTUNGS-45 / THE SHIVVERS-LP - Maximum Rock and Roll


Still working on that hot first release.



The Girls! are a 6-piece power pop band from Columbus, Ohio, formed in 2011, notable for mixing melodic, upbeat instrumentals with vocals characterized by tragic lyrics about love and heartbreak. They are remarkable for the strength of Jessica Wabbit's songwriting and vocals, and the band's solid arrangements/diverse musical influences.

Jessica Wabbit, Ryan Vile, Joey Blackheart, and Big Nick met each other playing the Columbus music scene in bands such as Carson Drew, Joey Blackheart and the Gallows, and The Reacharounds. In a period where no one was attached to a particular band, they ended up partying and drinking a lot of beer together at Ryan's house, and playing new songs for each other. So they started a band, and while most prior bands had more punk or metal sounds, everyone was very interested in the more poppy sound from Wabbit's history.

After messing around for a while with the original lineup and writing songs, Ryan brought in his old Reacharounds bandmate Bent to play bass. Raeghan from Dead Girlfriends filled in on drums one day, and then hung out and partied until the group added her. The band released their first 7" single "Rodney" on Oct 5, 2012, and their debut full-length album "Let's Not Be Friends" on April 18, 2014.

Joey Blackheart passed away on July 9, 2014. The band has continued on and added Joe Damn on lead guitar.

Band Members