» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Girls
Yes No Yes No Yes No

Rating: 7/10 ?

September 10, 2008
American Teen, the new documentary film by Nanette Bernstein, explores the clique culture of contemporary American high schools. As the promotional poster for the film depicting the teens in a classic John Hughes inspired pose suggests, perhaps not much has changed from the early 1980s exploration of the same issue in The Breakfast Club. Hughes' film, which begins with an epigraph from David Bowie's "Changes," further pronounces the bond between music and identity in adolescence. In high school, music means everything; whether you are in band or listen to The Band.

For The Girls, the bond between music and identity is equally as important. The Seattle band expand punk signifiers and end up sounding as slick as they look. Punk is classified in terms of styles and trends that either progress or revive the genre, but just like with high school students, some bands are trendsetters, some followers, and others stray from the pack. In the punk rock class of '77, bands like Magazine, Wire, and The Stranglers explored punk's arty, outer edges. They refused to be defined, they dared to be different, and they probably showed up at school with paint on their clothes. Taking a page from the seminal fanzine Sniffin' Glue, The Girls act as if 30 years of American punk rock never existed.

On their second album, Yes No Yes No Yes No, The Girls' version of artpunk is synthetic, robotic and hypnotic, combining postpunk dance rhythms with pre-new wave electronic experimentation. Rather than look to hook heavy songs by The Cars, The Girls make for a much closer comparison to Tubeway Army. The album's first track, "Where Wolves Drink," begins forceful and driving; a sing-along chorus and beautifully fuzzy keys characterize this banger. "Transfer Station" alone is worth the price of admission, amping up Buzzcocks-style pop-punk perfection with Devo-like pyrotechnics. "Point of Departure," which ends the album, feels epic compared to the rest of the tracks even though it is only three minutes long. Its slow-burning intro is reminiscent of Gary Numan's "Cars," but darker, more disturbing. The Girls keep slow and steady on this track, but not too steady. As the chorus fades out, singer Shannon Brown repeats the line, "I often drift when I drive."

The Girls stray from the punk rock pack where hard and fast rules. Their interest in avoiding popular punk trends is refreshing, but at times they occupy a difficult space between strange and familiar. Like their predecessors, Tubeway Army and The Stranglers, The Girls often ignore punk rock staples, preferring instead to explore moody organs, stiff beats, and danceable rhythms. Yes No Yes No Yes No is not the soundtrack to your revolution, but it would definitely be played at the after party.

Reviewed by Joseph Coombe
A contributing writer who lives and works in Los Angeles, Joseph Coombe is searching for Jon Landauís future of rock and roll by rereading Lester Bangs and unreading Greil Marcus.

See other reviews by Joseph Coombe



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