Sunday, December 14, 2008

U.S. Girls – Kankakee Memories [Cherry Burger]

When I first threw this on the turntable I played it at 33rpm, in my defense it’s not labeled, and all the low fuzz sounded real good to my ears. It wasn’t until a little while later I figured out I’m an idiot and it’s at 45 (the big hole in the center should of tipped me off.) Anyway, it was a happy mistake cause I figured out this thing is like two records in one, one by U.S. Girls and one by U.S. Creepy Older Males. Enough of the tomfoolery; the review starts now.
Of the U.S. Girls stuff I’ve heard, this 7inch Kankakee Memories immediately strikes me as their best material so far. Each of the four songs, here, is interesting in its own way, as well as containing plenty of replay value.
The leadoff track “So Ladder Strong” is a minimalist garage anthem; pounding drums, indecipherable vocals and plenty of fuzz and feedback to go around. Other than a bit of pitchshifting, that I can make out pretty much only when the drums drop out during a brief breakdown, the only elements here are drums and vocals. It’s impressive that they can pull off pop hooks with such a limited. seemingly amelodic palette. “Come See Lightly” finishes up the first side. The minimalism continues here switching up the drums for a simple descending guitar melody. I really love the dual vocals here, which create a beautiful cascading chorus. So brief but so good.
On the flipside, things get changed up again. After some reversed babbling baby talk, there’s a lilting piano line backed by sparse percussive hits and vocal note drenched in cavernous reverb. Though epic, this is only an intro, leading to a great roughhewn, abstracted 50’s/early 60’s piano-pop ditty. I’m pretty sure, excluding vocals, that this is the first time there are two instruments playing simultaneously on the record. This makes the track, “O What a Nite”, sound absolutely lush in comparison to the first side. In the grand tradition of the Beach Boys and Freddie Mercury, the U.S. Girls cover The Ronettes’ “I Can Hear Music” for their last track of the record. Coming full circle, it’s a drums and vocal affair. The drums have probably the raddest “drum sound” I’ve ever heard, fat but hollow and strangely melodic. The vocals do a great job carrying the song along as they do throughout the record; it’s actually a pretty risky style that the U.S. Girls work in because if only one of the elements is off point the track would probably collapse. To recycle an earlier comment, this 45 is so brief but so good.
This is the first release from Cherry Burger records and they’ve done a fine job here with black and white artwork (which strangely looks like a goth version of my girlfriend when she was young) and an insert with plenty of info.

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