Since 2000 The Beautiful Girls have been playing their own brand of music and have established a sizeable following in their native Australia. Their sound “started out as acoustic and incorporated rock, punk, reggae, dub” and several other influences, says front-man Mat McHugh. Their recent album “Spooks” continues to see their unique blend evolve; adding several layers of sonic effects, dubby rhythms, and brass to the mix.
While there is still a certain surfer sensibility to the band, you can definitely see their most recent album beginning to embrace some electronic and dubstep sounds. McHugh had mentioned in a brief conversation that some of the artists he had been listening to recently included Major Lazer, Diplo, Flying Lotus, and LCD Soundsystem; which may surprise you coming from a band that frequently draws comparisons to the likes of the Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, or other fellow Aussie Xavier Rudd. “It’s Refreshing to hear a sound or groove that hasn’t been done before,” said McHugh of some of his influences. When asked what kind of direction he sees The Beautiful Girls leaning towards, he responded that he’s “not really sure; I like to surprise myself and keep the love alive; if you fall into a routine you become boring.”
The Beautiful Girls are currently touring the United States and Canada in support of the John Butler Trio. While the John Butler Trio were busy Saturday night in New York doing some support of their own for the Dave Matthews Band at Madison Square Garden, Mat McHugh decided to go back to his roots and perform in a special solo and acoustic show at the intimate Rockwood Music (with a capacity of only 50). This show had some special meaning to McHugh, who before returning to the surf of Sydney and creating The Beautiful Girls earlier in the decade, was in New York playing shows not much bigger than this.
McHugh was very relaxed on stage; donning just an acoustic guitar and some loop petals as he performed some of the Beautiful Girls material as well as tracks off of his own solo debut, “Seperatista!.” After going through several of his own tracks; showing off his appreciation of sample and beat machines as well; he went through a medley of songs including Bob Marley’s “This Train”, Sublime’s “Guava Jelly,” and Pearl Jam’s “Black” before going back into some tunes of his own. It’s very easy to enjoy McHugh’s blend of styles and there’s definitely a great sense of comfort on the stage. The Beautiful Girls will be in North America through December when they return to Australia.