Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review #103: Grrrl Friend - The Rag (EP) (2008)


Year: 2008
Genre: Punk Rock
Post-Punk, Hardcore
Label: Wrong Island Records

15 Minutes (Short)
My Rating:

Sometimes you find a band, and the moment you hear them, you know they're gonna be great. That's kind of the story with when I found out about Grrrl Friend. A punk band from Portland, Oregon, lead by Duffy Wrong Island, formed in 2006. The group has a very strong D.I.Y.-based ethic, and has gone through durastic line-up changes for the entirety of its existence. I also admire their skills of writing good, catchy songs, as well as their lo-fi production which gives the music a very organic, raw feel to it.

For awhile, I thought this was the first Grrrl Friend album, but I recently found out that that iz not the case -- there was another record before it called "Period", which is now out-of-print and they have not released it as a free download like their other releases, so I am not sure how the hell to even obtain that one. But this is the earliest one that you CAN get for free at this point. In my opinion, this EP has most of their greatest songs on it, so far (there's a really good song called "Get Up", but it's on a compilation album that I do not yet own and have only heard from a live video... "Roadside Picnic" is really good, too). The first two songs are more hardcore-oriented, but everything else is totally a sound of its own... the first listen is a very moving, emotional, genuine sweep of beauty ingrained into your skull. To put a long story short, I believe this is the kind of music that lives forever. Now, onto the review.

1. Probably
Begins with two thumping drums amidst the silence, before the dreary riff kicks off, along with a somewhat fast beat. Duffy's vocals and the just slightly abrasive sound of the guitar set the mood for the song -- a path being taken which is off-beat but on-point. Not sure what it's about. Doesn't matter though, 'cause I can hear Duffy say that we're going to "have a good time". Well, I am having a good time listening to this. However, there is an acoustic version on the "B-Sides and Rarities" album that's even BETTER than this version of the song, with Elyssa (or maybe it's Cora) and Duffy on double vocals. THAT is the ultimate version of the song, but it's all legit.

2. The Rag
After the frantic-ness of "Probably", we are treated to the title track, "The Rag", which starts off on a downhill slide... and by that I mean that the verse part is slower. The riff is wonderful. The song's probably about, well, being "on the rag" or something like that. The chorus section is fast n' furious, with a boingy sound being made on one of the other guitars. The band actually sounds like they're having fun... you can hear Duffy and Elyssa laughing just before the second verse. I like this one the best while driving or walking off into a sunset or something like that...

3. Mine
Starts with a short acoustic intro (a.k.a. the riff being played once) -- this song's really happy and relaxing. It's slower, with a more psychedelic tinge to it. The verse riff is beautiful, and then there's a nice chorus with a trippy-sounding lead guitar playing during that part. Elyssa also sings in this song -- hell she sings in about all of the songs on here except for the first one. Definitely a song that deserved to be written.

4. Cast a Shadow
This one's a Beat Happening cover. Great acoustic guitar sound... actually, it starts out acoustic in the very beginning, and then quickly morphs into an electric one with not a whole lot of distortion... the lead guitar is so fucked up here, but it's awesome. You can credit that to Jay Briggs of the Sonitus Revolution, who was in Grrrl Friend at this point... "Cast a shadow on my ERECTION" -- hah!! The song fades out...

5. Homesick
This one's a little slower, like "Mine"... driven like a gear in a great machine or a tiny falling snowflake, there's neat lead guitar here... just peddling along like a... bicycle... or something. Heh heh. The rhythm guitar here is a bit more heavy than the other songs, like grunge or something. Here, the vocal duties are sort of different... Duffy sings high-pitched, and Elyssa sings more low-pitched. When the lead guitar doesn't sound all sparkly, it's got a crazy sound to it like a ripple in a lake of ACID. The song sort of reminds me of the feeling of going back home after a long, exciting journey. Duffy yells, "DO IT, JAY", and Jay whips out a neat-o guitar-o sol-o on command.

6. By a Thread
This song is more dominated by an acoustic guitar than the rest. Either that or an electric with very light effects. Duffy n' Elyssa on vocals. It's a very soft, serene song. The bass is pretty easy to hear. At one point, there's a BACKWARDS solo. I thought that was pretty cool. It's a cool-down after a storm of coolness, I suppose. The song ends, and then so does the EP.

It's sort of lame once the record's over, but don't worry, they'll be back! Actually, the band has just been releasing some new demo songs (Black Jesus, Doppelganger 12-Step, etc. just to name a few)... in my opinion, these songs are amazing. You should definitely get this. Even if the cover art offends you/grosses you out. Ignore that if it's that big of a deal. Yeah, definitely awesome. This record restored my hope in the music of today and gave me optimism for the current generation of musicians... I recommend this for everyone. Listen to good music.

Top 3 Favorites:
1. The Rag
2. Mine
3. Homesick

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