Tuesday, November 16, 2021

It's A Girl Thing

In recognition of Ireland's all-male beat combo Girl Band sending out a press release to let us all know they'll "no longer be performing or releasing records under the name Girl Band" and apologizing "for choosing a misgendered name in the first place", I thought it might be an apposite moment for a few choice tunes by actual girl bands, although even as I type the words I apprehend the trap of my own making I'm about to fall into. And yet on I go.

Horsegirl have been on my radar for a while. I have a suspicion I may even have linked them before. They have a new single out and it just might be the most 1985 noise I've heard since I switched the radio on and The Jesus and Mary Chain's Upside Down spewed out. And yes, I realise that was 1984 and this sounds not much like it, more like the Pastels perhaps, but I know what I know.

Horsegirl say they've been "listening to a lot of New Zealand underground bands (80’s/90’s Flying Nun)" and I bet the Reids were, too. We all were, back then. 

I like Billy but I like Horsegirl's last single, Ballroom Dance Scene, more. It's luminously beautiful, mesmeric and filled with tides. I like the video too, which they made themselves.

There's some very well-shot live footage of the band on YouTube but unfortunately the vocals are all but inaudible on the 7th Street Entry gig footage and the Union Park show seems a bit "hope you like our new direction", plus once again you can't really hear the vocals.

A while back (and it was quite a while) I remember complaining that YouTube recommendations had gone all to pot for me. I'm very happy to report that they're back to their former standard of not at all bad if you get lucky. Today, off the back of Horsegirl, I got this.

Melenas seem to be one of an almost endless supply of Spanish indie bands that sound like they've been frozen in ice for various lengths of time, in this case maybe since the very early '90s. There's more than a smidgeon of Stereolab in their mix, I'd say.

They might very well be Elefant Records recording artists, in which case I'd have heard of them long ago but they're not, so even though they've been around for a decade or more they're as new to me as, I'm assuming, they will be to anyone reading this. 

There they are, giving us their version of Grauzone's Eisbar, a post-punk track whose "classic" status, I have to admit, had until now eluded me. They've helpfully translated the title from the (I assume) German into Spanish, wehere it renders as Oso Polar. I can't do less than to return the favor. It's called Polar Bear. You knew that, didn't you?

Seeing that the video for the original (if remastered) Grauzone version has more than two and a half milion views, I'm showing my ignorance here, obviously. It's a right post-punk banger, too. I prefer Melenas's cover all the same.

In these dark days, when it's much harder to just pick up and go to Spain than it has been all my life, I rely on Elefant Records to make me feel I'm there. I was thinking about it and these last two years have to be the longest I've ever gone without leaving the country. 

With so many of the Elefant-signed bands being lo-fi, low-finance collectives there's a propensity for them to shoot home-made videos around the places they live, which often turn out to be the kind of back-end of nowhere towns Mrs. Bhagpuss and I end up in when, as we so frequently do, we get utterly, hopelessly lost. At least we've never been chased down a back street by a deeply creepy guy dressed as a giant rabbit. I guess there's still time.

I've thrown in Aiko el Grupo, even though they are, by a strict numerical count (and based entirely on outdated cis-stereotype visual cues, for which I pre-apologize, just in case), only half a girl band. Their video makes the Lisasinson one look like it's shot in the modernista suburbs of Barcelona by comparison. God, I miss Spain. 

(I am half-Spanish, in case I never mentioned it. Not that I've ever lived there or can speak the language or have any Spanish family. It's just a genetic thing. Still, it's in the blood, I guess. Either that or the fact I've been going there every year since I was five.)

We could hardly finish without Let's Eat Grandma, could we? Not with the incredibly thrilling news that their third album is due early next year. January 28, 2022 to be precise and I've just pre-ordered. I have a vague idea I may have linked the unutterably wonderful first single, Hall of Mirrors, before but so what if I have? Here it is again. Not only is the song worth listening to over and over but the video is a trip. Just stare into it and see where you end up.

The second single is very different. Hard to talk about. The lyric is upsetting, the performance disturbing, the video weirdly transcendental. The first time I watched it, it took me half a minute to come back to myself afterwards. I wasn't sure if it had been a meditative experience or a hypnotic one.

 The album's going to be something, I can tell you that.

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