The Bowery Ballroom



Thu, September 22, 2011

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

The Bowery Ballroom

New York, NY


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This event is 18 and over

It’s rare to find something as true and beautiful as the band Girls. Listening to their music, it’s as though Christopher Owens and JR White were meant to find each other, sincere rock and roll soul mates in the age of irony. And while that might sound like fancy, it’s closer to the truth than you think.

“If you’re going to San Francisco…”

Just as the Velvets crackled with New York City electricity and Smiths’ songs came soaked in Manchester drizzle, so the music of Girls captures the stoned and sun-brushed outlook of life in San Francisco. Taking the classic California pop template perfected by Brian Wilson and applying a woozy, narcotic makeover, Girls make music that sincerely glorifies adolescence - a youth of hopeful confusion and love strong enough to hurt you. You’ll detect 50’s surf-pop, 60’s psychedelia and 80’s shoe-gaze at play here – the West Coast-by-way-of-somewhere-else; but ultimately San Francisco washes over this music.

“We’re all looking for love and meaning in our lives.”

Desire and heartbreak are themes that blanket Girls’ album, from fruitless longing (“I might never get my arms around you/But that doesn’t mean that I won’t try” – “Lauren Marie”) to painful reflection (“Maybe if I really try with all of my heart/Then I could make a brand new start in love with you” – “Lust for Life”).

Christopher’s lyrics shoot straight for your heart, as they come directly from his. As he himself notes: “Sometimes the best way is to have simple lyrics. There’s this country song by Tim McGraw where he sings: ‘We’re all looking for love and meaning in our lives.’ To me, that speaks volumes, even though it’s so simple.”

“All I have to do is dream”

It is difficult to talk about the music of Girls without addressing Christopher’s unique background. Born into the Children of God cult, he spent his childhood travelling the globe, attending prayer sessions and busking in the street, all the while shielded from the outside world. In his words, “they thought they could hide us from a whole lot of stuff and teach us to be happy, perfect children of god. But you can’t control people like that.”

The full story of Christopher’s time in the cult, which includes tales of suicide, prostitution and an eventual escape to Texas, is one for another time. What is clear is that this is far more than just a neat back-story – life in the Children of God had a massive impact on Christopher's songwriting. It was there that he learned to perform, and was exposed to a surprisingly diverse array of sound – much of it original music composed within the community, but also a variety of “sanctioned” popular music, most notably the Everly Brothers and the Fleetwoods. Later, rebellious older teens exposed him to Guns ‘n Roses and Michael Jackson, as well.

“The whole cult was really based around music,” notes Christopher, admitting that he saw a beauty in a lot of the songs they would sing together. “In fact, a lot of Girls' music has a sound that’s very much like the Children Of God music. There’s a spiritual kind of quality. Even though I’m not at all religious and very much against the whole experience, it's there. Brian Wilson talks about the spiritual thing that music is. I don’t know what that is exactly, but I know that if I just close my eyes then music takes me somewhere else.”

At 16 Christopher left Children of God and wound a circuitous route through the Amarillo, Texas’ punk scene before eventually finding a natural home in San Francisco. There he fell into the local music community, playing gigs with Ariel Pink and his Holy Shit project: “I wouldn’t have got into writing music at all if I hadn’t played with Holy Shit – watching them play was like a lightbulb going off.” In San Francisco, Christopher also met JR, a chef and amateur music producer, with whom he started Girls.

“Nothing compares to u”

Quickly after meeting one another, Christopher and JR began to spend all their time together, eventually sharing an apartment and even knocking down a wall that divided their rooms. As Christopher's openhearted songs began to take shape, JR was on hand to arrange the perfect musical backdrop.

“I have these visions of grandeur, where I want to hire string sections and timpani, and really go for it like in the 60s,” grins JR. “But we were doing it in our bedrooms. We mainly recorded onto reel-to-reel tape, and also on an old computer that shut down on us in the middle of the session. All sorts of variables made the recordings sound like they do.”

Album is a song-cycle about the various characters and desires that color Christopher and JR’s lives. Each song tells a story, some heartbreaking and some hopeful, some mischievous and others plaintive, but always, always true. Described by the band as "honest, loose, ethereal, obnoxious and perfect," it is a sincere tribute to the majesty of great pop music and the redemptive powers of rock ‘n roll.

Girls’ debut album ‘Album’ is released on 22nd September 2009 on True Panther Sounds
"Nobunny is certainly hitting a chord that's turning ears all over into fuzzy, pink, and protruding embarrassments.... Like a pop machine spewing out a small rivulet of hits... Nobunny's ability to deliver blithesome songs with a maddened and frothy smile is simply brilliant. His bouncy and rollicking style conjures images of dirty bubbles rising over a landscape of unkempt, and insanely catchy hooks that will have the stuffiest of the arm folding camp dancing and acting like idiots within the first couple of chords."

-Brett Cross, Victim Of Time
"Everyone becomes sea urchins and rats at night," says PAPA's Darren Weiss, laughing slyly. "It's the nature of being young."

Like with an inside joke you know, you smirk along, succumbing to a moment of reverie. The suggestion of crawling so close to the dirt floods in bastard memories. And so, when the versatile drummer, singer and principle songwriter next puts his band's musical efforts in simple terms such as, setting out to make "American soul music with a punk-rock mentality" on its forthcoming EP, A Good Woman is Hard to Find, you nod along, like, yeah that sounds about right.

There's a poetic purity that runs through the songs, suggesting devious truths and well told lies, rolling along with a natural swagger that thoughtlessly evokes hard-hitting shakes and slow-swinging shimmies. Weiss' earnest vibrato often takes on a Springsteen-like growl in its best moments, crooning reminiscences on "I Am The Lion King," "I got to make a you a woman. You got to make me a man." In each song's groove there's a dangerous sexiness to PAPA-the furious grip of the dance floor, the cold pavement outside, and the way you kiss when you're not sure you'll ever see the person again or whether you'd even want to.

A Good Woman is Hard to Find is an album as ripe for romance as it is partying. It has moments of aggression and simple bliss, with a classic sense of harmony, melody and style. It's a modern, rough-and-tumble take on classic soul, without a doubt. With the help of Weiss' musical partner, friend-since-childhood, bassist Danny Presant, the tracks gain a hip-hop sensibility that separates PAPA from simple revivalists and instead into timeless territory. It's an exacting and revelatory ode to what's wrong with modern romance but what won't stop one from giving it another go. Meanwhile, the cover art shows a waifish, made-up girl, smoking a cigarette, smiling with a come-hither wink that suggests a good time but history argues otherwise. Here we go again. It's an instant testament to our hero's exhausting trials in love and those superficial layers that brutally slice through once promising, meaningful connections.

Weiss and Presant grew up in Los Angeles and have always had a home in California. Weiss is also a passionate painter and writer of prose.

PAPA's A Good Woman is Hard to Find will be released October 4th on Hit City U.S.A. and Psychedelic Judaism.
Venue Information:
The Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancey St
New York, NY, 10002