The Girls
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The Girls

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Comet) The Girls' recent comeback show found the band playing a more tense brand of punk rock than their previous incarnation ever attempted. Their boozy wit and showmanship are thankfully intact, but the boys of the Girls (who like girls who—oh, never mind) seem to have their sights set on loftier things: less eyeliner and more scowl. No new recordings have made it my way yet (nudge), but expect their new stuff to exhibit less of an Ocasek fetish and more of a taste for Wire. Live, they're as entertaining as ever—Shannon Brown is a commanding frontman and his rotating cast of bandmates are able and energetic. Das Llamas' dark and economical postpunk, fueled by Stabmasterarson's Kerry Zettel and Shawn Kock and wildly talented drummer Thomas Burke, should provide a perfect introduction to the new, improved Girls. ERIC GRANDY - The Stranger - 2006


For some bands the word "understated" was deleted from the English language the minute they all picked up their instruments. These are the ones who always seem to be getting and giving lap dances at the party; who perform with a swagger that puts the idea of modest composure to shame; who start false rumors about getting arrested, or who get a second look from a major label based on one night of table dancing in a certain record exec's hotel room at SXSW. While not all those accusations of outrageous behavior can necessarily be pinned on the Girls (except for that last item, which I know to be true), the rumors that surround the band are both blessing and curse, trailing them like a vanload of overanxious groupies. They've built a reputation for having cocky attitude and energy to burn, both on and off stage. That means when they're on, they're a skyrocketing group of glam punks who know how to work it, and when things fall apart, people complain they're overactive showboaters who let style override tight performance. But the Girls are working hard to define themselves as a band whose music backs the attitude, and like the Lashes--another band whose cocksure antics have awarded them both the success and the backlash that comes with self-promotion--they're in a good place to put themselves near the top of the Seattle rock 'n' roll pecking order with the playful self-assurance in their sound.

The Girls came out of the Seattle punk scene--frontman Shannon Brown and drummer Mario Martusciello played in the Cuckoos back in the day--but they've never seemed to fit safely within it. There's a preening new wave/glammy current animating the band, reinforced by their dress (they've been known to play wearing only slim skivvies live), Brown's hiccupped, hysterical vocals, and the band's pop hooks. Their best songs have all the catchiness of classic Cars tracks mixed with the blown-out punk pomp of the New York Dolls and the Voidoids. With the addition of keyboard player Eric Nordlund, the Girls (which also includes guitarist Zache Davis and bassist Nick "the naked guy" Markel) have moved even deeper into feverish new-wave territory that teeters between pop and punk, placing the band in good company on the Dirtnap Records catalog. And with the release of the Girls' first proper full-length (the follow-up to their Return to Zero EP), self-titled and peppered with photos of the band primping, posing, and performing, they seem to be proudly declaring that over-the-top is the new subtle--a great motto so long as it's done right, with a big dose of playfulness and unselfconscious fun. Luckily, there are plenty of places on this new record where that important combination is exactly what's taking place.

Produced by Martin Feveyear, The Girls takes much of the band's older material and gives it a new coat of audio gloss. The songs are more punched out with extra-crunchy guitar riffs and detailed with hearty backing choruses that reverberate like football chants while handclaps and keyboard effects hit in lightning strikes throughout the album. The opener "Return to Zero" is a great staple from the band's set, but "Decoy" really high-kicks things into gear, with Brown both talking up and trashing the faux fabulous life. "Everybody's smashing," he taunts, before counting off the latest in a long line of haunted hollow men ("You've got your face in the latest victim's race") and hitting back with, "I think I'm gonna smash it. I think I'm always crashing into it." The chorus shouted by Brown's bandmates tempers the dramatic delivery, giving the song a dizzying effect: You seem to have been propped in the center of a propulsive atmosphere, one the band wants to tear to shreds. But nothing's too serious for the Girls, with even the most (semi)tragic of topics tickled by Brown's convulsive delivery and the band's delirious pop overtones. My one complaint is that some of the songs seem too slow for all the pent-up energy the band has, but all in all, it's a record to be proud of, one that shows the band moving into a new place in the new-wave punk scene. In celebration of The Girls, the band is having a CD release show on Friday, April 30, at Chop Suey with the Lights and the Dalmatians. - The Stranger - 2004 ( Jennifer Maerz)


Seattle glam-punks The Girls aren't interested in burying their influences, assimilating them, or updating them for the internet era; their Dirtnap debut is an unabashed encomium (one might even say "parody," were it not such an obvious labor of love) to a new-wave now old enough for mid-life crises and lower back pain. It's a hi-fi facsimile: the black and white grid of faces and neon-pink cursive that mark the album's cover hark back to the "garish is good" aesthetic of the late 70s/early 80s-- only to be outdone by the back cover, which boasts sunglasses, black ties, sleeveless dress shirts, and everyone gazing into the middle distance toward, presumably, The Future, where everything occurs against a Tron-like backdrop; where Max Headroom is George Bush to Spuds McKenzie's Dick Cheney; where Belinda Carlisle toils in obscurity while Gary Numan's Tubeway Army rake in major moon-bucks. Inside, there's a picture of The Girls applying their eyeliner in a mirror. Are you feeling me yet? What I'm saying is, they ain't fuckin' around.

But this is no fishnet-hawking electroclash fashionista rock; besides having more sexxx appeal than both Coreys combined, The Girls've got chops like Ralph Macchio. Those of you who know The Cars and The Voidoids can guess what you're in for; for you young'uns, I'll say this: The Girls sound kind of like Stellastarr* (I mean that in a nice way), yet hew more closely to new-wave roots than the more indie rocking Stellas, viz. punchy simplicity over grandiose anthem rock.

Vocally: foppish and fey, staccato yelps and hiccups, words padded with more syllables than anything that isn't a British manor has the right to contain (example: "stereo" inevitably becomes "ster-e-ah-e-ah-e-o"). Lyrically: classic Information Age gobbledygook, designed less to convey information about the modern world than to describe its accumulation of surface and signal via verses that rely more on allusive phonetic similarity than actual narrative (example: on "She's Hysterical": "Schematics, schematics/ Mechanical reaction/ Schematics, schematics/ You're in love with your reflection/ Oh no, she's gonna blow!"). Guitars: sleek and buzzing, all sculpted slides and reedy fuzz chords. Rhythm section: crisp and spare, skeletal-- witness the analog man striving toward the pristine precision of the drum machine. (And of course) Synths: and plenty of them, clean and lambent melodic lines fresh from the can, clarion call for the UFO set, gloriously artificial bubbles glowing like fluorescents.

I'd be remiss to not mention "Dope Disguised as Nuns". It's about... okay, remember that Saturday Night Live commercial parody about monkeys that clean your bathroom? Where the monkey writes, "Monkey hate clean" on the bathroom mirror with lipstick? That was funny, right? It seems The Girls agree: The song seems, in all seriousness, to be about that sketch. I'm still confused. I'm not going to insult your intelligence with some dubious tie-in to the rest of The Girls' oeuvre-- I mean, that skit isn't even from the right era of SNL.

-Brian Howe, July 12, 2004 - Pitchforkmedia.com 2004


it was the opening set from local band the Girls that impressed me the most. For a band that has taken so many stylistic departures and survived the temporary relocation of members (guitarist Zache Davis just recently moved back from New York), they have really come into their own and sounded tighter and more focused than ever. - The Stranger 2006 (Hannah Levin)


Discography

The Girls ST (Europe) Radio Blast Recordings - 2004
The Girls ST (USA) Dirtnap Records - 2004

Airplay on KEXP. (Seattle and world wide @ kexp.org)

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Bio

Seattle quintet the Girls deliver a punk-rock sound armed with both the intuition of the better half and the brawn of the other.

We’re talking impressively tight, clean punk-rock that clearly recognizes why bands like Devo and the Cars inspired a good chunk of the bands that inspired a good chunk of the bands that people are always loosing-their-shit for these days.

Right from the start, the Girls displayed a shitload of indisputably catchy hooks, a tightrope-dancing rhythm section, confident blurts and yelps from frontman Shannon Brown, razor-sharp synths, and the charisma to match.

Despite some lineup changes, none of this has changed, and since the band’s formation in 2001, they’ve shared the stage with such bad-ass acts as Graham Coxon of Blur, the Black Lips, the Detroit Cobras, and the Briefs.

In 2004 the Girls successfully toured for throughout Europe for an entire month, covering Germany, Italy, France and Switzerland.

Considering the band members’ collective lineage and stabbing musical chops, who would be surprised by such accomplishments?

Original singer Shannon Brown and guitar-slasher Zache Davis have survived member changes, and now lead bass player/backup-vocalist “Griff,” (Tourist), keyboardist Derek Mason, (the Catheters), and “Moments,” (Popular Shapes) on drums into brief and concise displays of new-wave/punk excellence.

The Girls are currently making the final moves on their as-of-yet untitled second full-length, produced by Martin Feveyear at Seattle’s Jupiter studios.

The record features a marked difference from the sounds of their self-titled debut (Dirtnap), forging more toward a Wire/Devo twitchy-ness that could only come from a band as well-studied in its influences as it is adept with its instruments.

GB