The JangleBox

Indie, Noise, Shoegaze… Music

Girls Names: Arms around a vision (Tough Love Records, 2015)

“Girls Names last record The Next Life found itself situated among the upper echelons of many “Best Of” lists at the end of 2013. So the difficult question posed to the Belfast foursome would be “Where do we go from here?” For a band who’ve been busy honing their craft for the best part of a decade one could have forgiven them for continuing where they left off. Indeed, many lesser artists would having developed such a successful formula. But then Girls Names were never about being formulaic. Every subsequent record from 2010’s self-titled debut EP onwards has seen a shift in approach and sound. Never settling for any one particular style or genre, Girls Names are a band constantly striving to breach previously unchartered territories at every juncture.
So when the eleven minutes long epic that is ‘Zero Triptych’ landed in May of this year, it didn’t so much signal a drastic seachange but more a desire to switch continents instead. Not entirely dissimilar to The Horrors venture from Primary Colours to Skying, it demonstrated a band embracing the electronic sound of Europe circa 1975 married to post-punk attitude. Perhaps the most distinctive feature linking it to Girls Names past output was the customary drawl of Cathal Cully, a tone familiar to anyone who’d spent an almost daily ritual of listening toThe Next Life ever since its release as yours truly had. That it doesn’t feature onArms Around A Vision speaks volumes for Girls Names ethos. Already moving onto the next phase. As a bridge between albums two and three it provides a platform for those uncertain of withstanding another giant leap.
So onto Arms Around A Vision, Girls Names third long player. Comprising twelve pieces that veer from the outrageously ambitious (‘A Hunger Artist’, ‘Take Out The Hand’) to cleverly thought out new wave pop (‘Dysmorphia’, ‘Málaga’) and short ninety seconds long interlude segments (‘Obsession’, ‘Convalescence’). As a record it never stands still. At times, there’s a feeling its creators might have been trying too hard to push themselves yet it’s this continual desire for perfection that makes Girls Names such a saporous proposition.
Heavily influenced by the likes of Glenn Branca and James Chance & The Contortions, there’s elements of Arms Around A Vision that clearly owe a debt of gratitude to the New York avant garde scene of the late 1970s. Take opener ‘Reticence’ for instance. Switching from ethereal grandiosity to jagged angular swathes in the changing of a chord, it sets the scene incisively for what follows.
‘An Artificial Spring’ takes its cue from Siouxsie & The Banshees. Most notably in Cully’s guitar work, which is hauntingly reminiscent of the late John McGeoch in its execution. Its Cully and Girls Names knack of instantaneously conjuring up a hypnotic riff that makes a piece like ‘Desire Oscillations’ fizz with intensity. Vocally, Cully comes over all Mark E Smith, particularly on the Can-inspired ‘Chrome Rose’ and futuristic sounding ‘Exploit Me’, which actually shares its synthesized hookline with Depeche Mode’s ‘Tora Tora Tora’.
Ever changing and insightful, Arms Around A Vision never becomes staid or complacent. Even on the closing ‘I Was You’, a six minutes long bass-led epic that mirrors Iceage or The Birthday Party at their diminutive best, it’s clear Girls Names already have one eye on the future. As one door closes, another one opens. Which in Girls Names world is ever-revolving and ultimately, ever-evolving” (Drowned in Sound)

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5 marzo, 2016 Posted by | Girls Names | Deja un comentario

Girls Names: The new life (Captured Tracks, Slumberland; 2013)

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Como si de una referencia directa se tratara, el título de este nuevo trabajo de Girls Names: The new life (2013), anticipa todo lo que nos vamos a encontrar en el mismo. Nuevo sonido, nueva actitud, nuevo envoltorio, nuevas estructuras…
Sin que su anterior trabajo, el irregular Dead to me (2011) fuera una maravilla (por cierto, la banda ha renegado de él recientemente), en este The new life, los de Belfast, se han marcado un disco mucho más oscuro, mucho más claustrofóbico, mucho más angustiante. Si en aquel destacábamos incluso su sentido del humor y su positivismo en temazos como Bury me, Nothing more to say o Cut up; en The new life todo esto es (casi) imposible de encontrar. Todo ello se ha borrado de un plumazo y en él nos encontramos más bien con paredes oscuras, con riffs reiterativos y muy machacones. Algo así a las influencias de las que hablábamos ayer para Beach Fossils pero llevadas al extremo. Personalmente, prefiero su sonido primigenio al exhibido en este nuevo trabajo, pero supongo que se trata de la evolución lógica de un grupo que si hay algo que no ha perdido es ese sentido de la grabación en pocas tomas y de cierto carácter amateurista en su grabación, con muchísimos aspectos mejorables, aunque tal y como les ha quedado tiene su encanto, muy ochentero (el pedal chorus es protagonista absoluto), si bien las influencias joydivisianas se les notan a la legua: Drawing lines, The new life… que pasan, por cierto, por ser las que considero las mejores del lote, dos temazos que tan sólo por su linealidad y su desarrollo progresivo merecen la pena ser destacadas.
Mención aparte para Projektion, un corte en el que aparece reflejada algo así a lo que deben entender unos chicos de Belfast de la música española. Al menos a mí me ha sonado una cadencia muy española. Mi chica me daba la clave esta mañana: Suenan a Héroes del Silencio… (??) Y no le falta algo de razón, aunque yo iría más por una cierta semejanza con muchos sonidos de una banda que hoy por hoy sería una influencia de Girls Names, y hablo de Parálisis Permanente, unos visionarios en el territorio hispano de todo lo que se iba cociendo en el sonido británico de comienzos de los ochenta. ¿Cómo lo veis…?
En definitiva, un disco más que ameno, con momentos interesantes que interesará sin duda a seguidores del Post-Punk y que a los que no lo son, aunque no lo incluirán en su lista de favoritos, sin duda les hará pasar un buen rato, pues es un trabajo que se deja oír muy bien.

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Girls Names‘ 2011 debut LP was called Dead to Me, with songs that possessed such happy-go-lucky titles as “Bury Me”, “I Could Die”, and “No More Words”. The album’s closing song referenced a movie about a psychic dealing with the death of her dead son, so in case you haven’t caught on yet, the Belfast outfit possesses a bit of a morbid streak. Frontman Cathal Cully’s wavering, accent-flecked baritone drew immediate comparisons to Brad Hargett of fellow death-obsessed Slumberland labelmates Crystal Stilts— as did Dead to Me’s rollicking garage-pop sound, which resembled what you might hear if you played the Stilts’ Alight of Night at 45 RPM. On that album’s highlight, the sulking “I Lose”, Cully intoned with a touch of dour misery, “I don’t miss my old life,” a curiously anti-nostalgic statement on a record that so dutifully mined the C86 era’s darker corners.
Dead to Me was a perfectly fine genre exercise of an album, but given the arguable creative zenith reached by the C86 micro-revival of three years prior, it didn’t do much to create a lasting impact– and as it turns out, Cully wouldn’t have it any other way. He recently toldBowlegs that positive reviews of the album weren’t “wholly justifiable,” and in press materials for Girls Names’ new album, The New Life, he claims that “Dead to Me literally was dead to us by the time it was committed to wax”. He’s not kidding: true to its title, The New Life finds Girls Names ripping it up and starting again, turning their replicative talents towards post-punk’s dreamier, more spectral corners. They throw in some faintly chugging motorik andEcho and the Bunnymen-sized romance along the way, without ever straying from the type of spiky stuff that turned the word “angular” into one of rock criticism’s greatest clichés.
Girls Names sound like a new band on The New Life, and at times, they are– the group’s expanded (for now) from a trio to a quartet, thanks to Philip Quinn’s synth work on a few album cuts. The greatest noticeable change is in the production quality, which is greatly removed from the tin can trappings of Dead to Me and the 2010 mini-LP You Should Know By Now; Cully produced the album himself, and more bands working in this vein would be smart to hire him behind the boards. Although his hand occasionally tips the scales of self-indulgence, there’s a remarkable sense of space on The New Life, a bright whiteness that, ironically, only increases these songs’ claustrophobic mood. Even when there’s only two or three instruments in the mix, as on the winding opening minutes of “Drawing Lines”, the atmosphere is dense.
The instrumentation on The New Life is evenly spaced and more varied than Girls Names’ previous efforts– but, really, it’s all about the guitars on this one. Cully handles six-string duties on his own here, and in terms of writing clean and expressive melodic lines, he proves as adept as the guitarists in Brooklyn’s DIIV, another group that’s largely able to get by on the strength of their instrumental interplay. At points, he creates expressive layers of interplay, as dubby stabs and walkabout solos sit atop the distant jangle of “Hypnotic Regression”; elsewhere, as on the darkly shaded “A Second Skin”, Cully needs only one guitar to spin something melodically sticky, before doubling over in complicated, tangled figures. He’s the kind of guitarist that renders indie purists’ worries about their genre’s abolishment of the instrument as foolishness, plain and simple.
Much of The New Life’s pleasures are found in its instrumentation, a factor which turns out to be the record’s defining flaw. Cully’s voice worked well as a heavy anchor steadying the relative chaos of Girls Names’ previous work, but with a few exceptions– his floaty high register on “Drawing Lines”, the considerable swagger possessed on the album’s eight-minute leg-stretcher of a title-track– he sounds almost too removed on this album, his voice acting as merely another element in Girls Names’ cloudy-sky mindset. (This atmospheric presence means that the lyrics don’t make themselves readily available to the naked ear either– then again, with song titles like “Occultation”, you don’t need a decoder ring to figure out what he’strying to say.)
Granted, grousing about a lack of distinctive male vocals in 2013 is not a novel pursuit, but what adds insult to The New Life’s moaned injury is that many singers from the musical era mined here– the Cure’s Robert Smith, Echo and the Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch, Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, just to name the ones who immediately stand out– stood out for sounding bold and, often, weird, regardless of how accessible the music surrounding them was. For now, Cully’s another voice in the crowd in that regard, but his promising talent displayed elsewhere on The New Life suggests that he’s one to keep your ears perked up for nonetheless” (Pitchfork)

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29 mayo, 2013 Posted by | Girls Names | Deja un comentario

Girls Names: Dead to me (2011)

El debut de Girls Names es un disco que tiene mucho de sorpresa en tanto que amalgama en un sonido de lo más básico mucha de la música que cualquier buen aficionado tiene en su mente tras repasar mucho de lo que se ha escuchado en las últimas décadas. Desde el Surf hasta el Pop de chicas, desde el Post-Punk hasta el Pop de los noventa. Todo ello dentro de un envoltorio estructuralmente básico y además con ínfulas Lo-Fi para que al conjunto no le falte de nada. Y encima de todo, la fórmula funciona. Suenan a algo así como unos The Drums sin esa afección ñoña, una especie de mezcla entre Billy Bragg sin su carga social y un Jonathan Ritchman electrificado; con un sonido casi cavernoso y unas voces que por momentos recuerdan a Crystal Stilts. Sus temas son altamente adictivos, y se basan, en su mayoría en un riff de guitarra contagioso y un acompañamiento simple pero efectivo. Nothing more to sayCut up o la genial Bury me son los mejores ejemplos de un disco que aunque no inventa nada nuevo, rezuma frescura por todos sus poros, y aguanta muy bien varias escuchas seguidas.

Girls Names – Dead to me (2011)

“Girls Names, en este su álbum debut aúnan multitud de sensibilidades todo ello bajo envoltorio de su pop lo-fi sucio y saturado; garaje punk noventero, pop soleado de las girls groups de los sesenta, surf californiano de la misma época, oscuridad british de la década de las hombreras y de las cazadoras de cuero a base de post-punk y shoegaze.
Hacen gala con orgullo de ese minimalismo retro, usando una clásica y básica combinación de batería, bajo, guitarra y voz, inevitablemente te traerá recuerdos al ayer y el hoy de la música pop universal, recuerdos a los movimientos epilépticos de Ian Curtis, a la soledad de Crystal Stills, al ruido de las Dum Dum Girls, a la distorsión de The Jesus And Mary Chain, Cloud Nothings, a la calma de Beach Fossils, a la reverberación de Bloody Valentine y Orange Juice, a la luz de The Ronettes y de Beach Boys, al escuchar el disco aparecen en la cabeza flashes de imágenes viñetadas en acetato súper 8 cargadas de agridulce nostalgia.
En “Deat To Me” afilan sus cuchillos para realizar cortes certeros de pop artesanal, misterioso e infeccioso repleto de jirones y dolor, su estilo anda entre el afligimiento y la esperanza unas veces jadeante y urgente, otras perezoso e introvertido, ritmos secos y rotundos con acordes de guitarra jangle cristalinas y penetrantes. Otro de los grandes discos de esta primera mitad del año, solo hay que esperar para ver como aguanta fuera de la nevera” (esdemasiadoparamicabeza.blogspot.com)

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5 julio, 2011 Posted by | Girls Names | 1 comentario

   

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