“Man, I assure you I can’t freaking find them anywhere!” That has been a very common phrase I’ve happened to hear very often, ever since I first found myself listening to Girls’ tune Heartbreaker and tried to share it with the world. That set of words was the answer many music fans replied whenever they tried to find one of their videos on YouTube or whenever they failed to download a song by them. Well, great girls are always hard to find. And believe me; these Girls are definitely worth the search.
As hard as it is to find one of their videos by typing their name into a search, it is as twice as hard to download their first album. The name of their first album is, well, Album. Don’t be surprised if you find weird stuff while you google “Girls+Album”. You might even find some good stuff (pretty good pictures indeed). But if you are looking for a first album many bands wished they had recorded in their early years, you are looking in the right direction.
Using titles such as girl’s names (Laura or Lauren Marie), eye catcher’s (like Hellhole Ratrace) and a gangsta wannabe’s ideal name for an album (Big Bad Mean Motherfucker); the styles used by Girls are as eclectic as the titles themselves. The voice of their lead singer, Christopher Owens, is unusual even for the non-conventional singing styles we’ve already heard from artists like Bob Dylan, Jack White or Neil Young. Its unconventionality is one of the main hooks in their repertory. Thankfully, many of us proved their live show is just another of those hooks.
Girls’ Honey Bunny
On a Friday night in México City, an empty stage full of instruments went dark. There was a drum set, an accordion, keyboards, a bass, lots of brass instruments like saxophones, clarinets and such; but no guitar. And just when the stage lights went on again, 6 people began to exchange all of those instruments, sometimes even halfway through a song, during a 30 minute set. They were Torreblanca, a post-pop-folky-like sounding machine. Influenced by the sound of Mexican radio and it’s awfully conventional and PG-13 artists. Torreblanca did all the opposite and built a fan base proud of what they do and the way they do it; and what they do sounds fantastic. With an energetic yet simple and brag less delivery, these guys (and girl) provided the counterpart of what was about to come.
As the lights went on again, the stage was transformed into a giant and bizarre flower pot. Everything, from guitar and microphone stands, to the drum set, amplifiers and monitors were covered with beautiful flowers: red roses, lilies, daisies, branches. It felt like a live tribute to Nirvana’s Unplugged concert back in the 90’s, when a similar stage was captured on video. That memory became even more realistic when Christopher Owens grabbed his guitar and began to strum the first chords of the night with Alex. He looked like Kurt Cobain’s brother from another musical mother. Yet, both voices are strange for the general music world, and both are at the same time perfect and emotive for their own musical genre.
Owens isn’t the best player or most charismatic front man you could wish for. But no band needs that when their music is this beautiful. Girls are capable of making you dance with Honey Bunny (like they did just in the second slot of their set)¸of making you roll back to the sixties with Saying I Love You, to pay tribute to such now-classic bands like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails with anthems like Vomit. To witness all of it and even more in a live concert isn’t common, at least not with practically “new” bands. And here’s when the counterpart of Torreblanca’s set as opening act comes.
Girls never attempt to look cool, or make a show out of every song for the sake of entertainment. They keep calm when a song speaks for itself (Hellhole Ratrace, for instance, with a war-like chorus everyone sung along with Owens), and they head bang and punish their instruments when the song is just too powerful that it has to get out of their bodies and into their strings, keys or drumsticks (like the powerful Vomit). You know all of it is done honestly because you can feel it, hear it and see it at the same time. And maybe, that’s why the stage is full of flowers. Not just because they appear on the artwork of Album or because its make the stage look original and cool. It might be that, every night, every time they get up on that stage and make it their own, they pay tribute to all the music they loved in the past and make way for their own music. They are saying Thank you, Welcome and Forgive Me at the same time. Even the last song of that wonderful night was Forgiveness. And how many times have you said all of those things using something as simple, beautiful and needless of explanation, as flowers and music?
P.S.: I owe someone some flowers and music for coming with me that night; thank you so much.
Written by Jorge A. López Mendicuti | OurVinyl Senior Writer
Guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, law school graduate, amateur writer and music fan