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LITERATURE

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

MUSIC

 » 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]

MUSIC

 » 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
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Girls
Album
True Panther

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 14, 2009
Even for us seasoned surfers, the amount of webbed-up hype that gets bestowed on certain bands can be astounding. Exhibit A.216 is Girls, a San Francisco duo with a backstory made for the internet. Boy (Christopher Owens) is raised in musical religious cult; boy obtains guitar from fellow member (and early Fleetwood Mac ax-man Jeremy Spencer?!); boy splits cult, ends up in Amarillo, TX punk scene (they have one?!); eventually lands in. . .SF, where else?!; plays gigs with Ariel Pink; meets a chef and music producer (?!) named JR (?!) White; starts Girls; release aptly named album, Album, on True Panther, part of indie behemoth tastemaker Matador (?!).

Indeed, it is a great circuitous tale, hence the plethora of punctuation above. And the funny thing about this interweb: sometimes it gets the hype right. Girls have tremendous promise, and Album is one helluva debut, cult upbringing be damned. Like the band and disc monikers chosen by Owens and JR, the record is utterly straight-up, and meaningful without sacrificing its cheerful Cali feel. Album calls up a range of sunny influences, and spins them into a Bay Area blend of pretty, immaculate pop songs. As with other backward-looking darlings - Vivian Girls, Raveonettes, et al. - Girls find gold to mine in the nuggets of the past. There is nothing groundbreaking on Album, but consideration must be given to the duo's ability to sound as authentically faithful and unironic in their treatment of yesteryear as they dust it off.

Aside from a few guests, Owens and White performed all the music, produced the album (which was not recorded in any studio), designed the cover art, and shot the simple photos of the everyday beautiful girls in the liner pages, a la American Apparel. This DIY ethic, bountiful in much of today's best music, works well on an album that truly comes straight from Owens' heart. Lyrics are as straightforward as they come, and revolve around love and longing, as from "Lauren Marie," "I might never get my arms around you/ But that doesn't mean that I won't try." The bluesy ballad "Hellhole Ratrace" finds Owens pining "Sometimes you just gotta make it for yourself/ And sometimes baby you just need someone else."

In spirit, Owens' chief retro collaborator is Elvis Costello, himself a constant throwback. The two deep voices sound amazingly similar; and just as Elvis plainly stated "My aim is true," Owens allows simple sentiments to seem profound by his earnestness alone. While not as fleshed out as some other remarkable debuts, Album is a fully realized personal vision. Like summer in San Francisco, it reconstitutes Owens' coldest winters into an evocative and cohesive collection. Matter of fact, cue up "Summertime" and you'll find you left your heart with Girls.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro

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