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Arts in Review

SoundBites (Wild Flag, Girls, The Kooks, And the Giraffe)

Reviews for the latest releases from Wild Flag, Girls, The Kooks, and And the Giraffe



Date Posted: September 30, 2011
Print Edition: September 28, 2011

Wild Flag
Wild Flag

Five years into Sleater-Kinney’s indefinite hiatus, former lead singer and guitarist Carrie Brownstein’s musical rebirth has arrived in the form of Wild Flag: a punk outfit strongly indebted to Wire and Television. On their eponymous debut, the group turns in a vigorous, but inconsistent and conflicted collection of songs. In a blog post on All Songs Considered, Brownstein wrote that her new project was prompted by a desire to overcome her increasingly detached and analytical approach to music. On her new record, she has yet to completely shed this somewhat clinical methodology. While songs like first single, “Romance,” are both inventive and emotionally resonant, Wild Flag’s nominal and resolute aggression is often hampered by a self-awareness ver  ging on neurosis. This conflict can produce some moments of dangerous, tightly-wound suspense, but it too often translates into over-thought and under-felt exercises in unnecessary complication like “Something Came Over Me.” If Wild Flag can shake off the rust and find a way to reconcile some these contradictions, their next record might fulfill the promise of their first.


Father, Son, Holy Ghost

On Father, Son, Holy Ghost San Francisco’s Girls take pop roots stretching from decades past and branches them out, elevating their sound to surf rock heights and acid-rock lengths, proudly wearing their influences on their sleeves. The real charm of Father, Son, Holy Ghost lies in Chris Owens making his albums play like mix tapes, blending the pleasures of modern music with his bedazzlement of the world. The simplicity of the lyrics, co-written by songsmiths Owens and White, combined with the sympathetic and wide-eyed voice of Owens make you truly believe in his desire for love, sex and friendship in this world. The album focuses on Owen’s hopeful yearnings in life, whether that involves expressing his love for someone, confessing how he let down a loved one or sincerely asking for forgiveness. As a collection, this album mostly keeps pace with their critically acclaimed 2009 debut record Album, however the last two tracks, “Love Like a River” and “Jamie Marie” fall into mediocrity and let the rest of the record down.


The Kooks
Junk of the Heart

We already know that a broken heart can go a long way for musicians. The songwriter of British Indie band The Kooks, Luke Pritchard, has carried his onto the third album. Junk of the Heart, however, isn’t begging for our sympathy, which makes it bearable. The tracks neither push creative boundaries nor do they settle for a carbon copy of their previous albums. The Kooks keep things consistent and sentimental with tracks that are easy-going and mild, sort of a detached view of a romance. There is no sign of straying from the generic parameter throughout the first five tracks. So when we reach “Time Above the Earth,” the opening string quartet sound is cool to hear. The remainder of the tracks fall back on the generic, but with tracks like “Petulia,” reminiscent of the Beatles’ “Michelle,” and the pretty sound of “Runaway,” The Kooks retain their own sound and once more appeal to the feeling that made them so popular, that everyone can’t help but go for: love – lost and longing.


And the Giraffe
Something for Someone

This EP, Something for Someone, is the brainchild of two friends from Florida who (accurately) describe their genre as “dreamfolk”; the songs wander along with a slow insistence that works its way into your brain. The foggy distortions and echo effects are completely surreal – as though by listening to it, the album has set the listener down in the middle of the Mojave Desert. This is especially evident as Nick Roberts croons on the third track, “Oh, suburbia, you’re gonna make a mess out of me. Oh, suburbia, I think you already have.” Although I’ve seen other bands try this dreamy approach with little to no success, And The Giraffe has just the right mix of clear vocals and well-blended distortion effects. Overall, it’s like the lyrics rest on a background of watercolours – the guitar lines (both electric and acoustic) meld seamlessly into minimalistic drums and the occasional rattlesnake effect. It’s not what anyone could call a peppy album, but the six tracks of Something for Someone keep it short, sadly sweet and quietly excellent.


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