Thursday, June 24, 2004

I didn't have time to write a really thorough post last night, and I'm also unsure about today's band's current activities. It'd be really nice if someone wanted to fill in the details in a comment. C'mon! It'll be fun!

Girlfrendo are/were? a Swedish band who sound like an English band to most people. They're a good example of a group bearing a Mike Alway influence. I didn't notice this when I first heard it, but the first track on their first full-length Surprise! Surprise! It's Girlfrendo could have teleported off of a Death By Chocolate album. Ok, I really didn't notice it because the Girlfrendo album pre-dates Death By Chocolate as far as I can tell. The song is an abecedarium called Homework, and I actually prefer it to DBC's attempts at same, probably because the music is less cheesy...maybe more skillfully cheesy is a better way to put it.

Girfrendo manage to cover a lot of styles, none of which fall outside the boundaries of That Which Is Twee. A lot of what they do sounds somewhat like Comet Gain stripped of the pseudo-political content (it's probably no surprise that they were touring with Comet Gain when I caught their disappointing live show -- as I mentioned, they had a cold) but they also have the affect of an El label band: a certain je ne sais quoi that hovers somewhere between put-on and homage to the swinging 60's. As a part of this, the female singers occasionally project a Cockney accent that can take some getting used to. Elsewhere, they often sound like Jennifer Tilly trying on European accents. I tend to like the less strident songs the best.

Dodging that issue entirely, here's Surprise, Surprise which is one of the few tracks with a male vocal. You might expect it to be a stinker; it smacks of a sop thrown to the Ringo of the band or something. Actually, it's a very nice fake soul bit that fans of Orange Juice, etc. will probably like.

Surprise! Surprise! came out on a Japanese label (I don't know why, but all of the music I've featured this week seems to be big in Japan) called Bambini, but it was licensed by a US label called March Records so it wasn't hard to find. On the other hand, their follow-up So You Are Here Again Shadow never got a US release and you'll almost certainly have to mail-order it (Allmusic has yet to acknowledge its existence). Same with a number of singles that the band has put out. I had read on Gullbuy (a great source for info on interesting new releases) that the post-Surprise! Surprise! songs weren't so hot, but I don't really agree. Here's the Metrics lesson 10,000 Kilometers and here's their heavy metal song Quiet Riot. (Ok, it's not heavy metal. I lied.) It's less effervescent than the early material, but arguably more tuneful. Suffice it to say that I like both CD's.

One of the stranger things they did was a cover of Spacemen 3's Walking With Jesus. Not that their version is particularly's just an unexpected choice of a song to cover. If I had to be brutally honest, I'd confess that I prefer this to just about all of the Spacemen 3 covers on that overly-serious tribute that came out some years ago.

If any of my Swedish readers (I know you're out there) can tell me what these people are up to these days, I'd be really grateful. Their web-presence seems to have largely disappeared.

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