Artist: Girls on Grass
Album: Girls on Grass
Release Date: 07/15/2016
Beauty is in the eye, or rather the ear, of the beholder with Girls On Grass. Hardly the belle of the ball, there’s nothing fancy or precious about the solid, no-frills country-rock found on a self-titled debut album that doesn’t make a very strong first impression. And yet, for all its oppressive rust-belt grit and occasional bouts of depression, going back for second and third helpings of this meat-and-potatoes stuff makes all the sense in the world.
Taking a straightforward, no-nonsense approach to songwriting, the partnership of singer-guitarist Barbara Endes – her voice full of character, strong and tough, but far from angelic – and drummer Nancy Polstein lightly sketches faded, slice-of-life vignettes in funny, whip-smart lyrics and couches them in simple melodies and neat, tidy hooks.
Stripped completely of artifice, tracks like the jangly opener “Father Says Why” sparkle, as does the blissfully strummed “Return to Earth.” Acting as cattle prods, “Drowning in Ego” – a sharp critique of a vapid culture obsessed with social media – and “Dave, We Love You” are lively and spirited exercises in catchy cow-punk, while “Fair” drags the river at a slower, deliberate pace more in keeping with doleful traditional country.
Memories of “experimenting with weed” are revisited in a darker, more sardonic “When the Pleasure Ends,” which makes no effort to hide its bitterness, despite its nostalgic yearnings. “Pissing down a Road” is just as cynical, although in both cases Girls On Grass keep its pot of anger from boiling over and digs out some basic ‘80s college-rock sounds from the back of a dusty cupboard, as this foursome – including bassist Dave Mandl and guitarist Sean Eden – eases into a mid-life crisis and laughs the laugh of the damned.
– Peter Lindblad