Album: About This Girl
Website: http://www.the histrioniks.com
Genre: Alternative Pop/Rock
Sounds Like: X, Breeders
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: Perpendicular, Anger Cherry, Woman of the Tunes
Sometimes I tell my high school students how great it is to broaden one’s horizons. Yet when it comes to the music I listen to, lately I am often guilty of lacking adventure and wrapping myself in mellow bliss.
But the Histrioniks’ About This Girl reminds me that I used to rock – really, I did. The disc is a fresh sonic blast for these ears, and it conjures memories of some of my favorites from my edgier days: the great LA punk/Americana outfit X in the ‘80s; the intense Breeders of the ‘90s; the slightly sinister, minor-key surf music that I first discovered on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack; and the band that made many others possible, the Velvet Underground.
Larry Levy is one half of the Histrioniks duo and he wrote most of the songs; he’s also the main guitarist (and a wickedly good one) and drummer. Singer Cat Levy (who also wrote a couple of the songs) has an ethereal, flexible voice that is well-suited for these oddly catchy tracks because, as the duo’s website explains, the album is meant to be excerpts from a girl’s diary.
Opening cut “Underneath It All” explodes off the album. It’s a big, bold dose of power pop – breakneck drums, thrashed guitars, and absolutely heavenly harmonies (Cat’s voice multi-tracked, I assume). “Whiskers A Go-Go” follows and keeps the feverish pace; it’s noteworthy for endearingly weird lyrics (cat references abound) and Larry’s reverb-soaked guitar.
Perhaps the best song on the disc is the spectral and absolutely infectious “Perpendicular.” A haunting chorus, swooping organ, Cat’s shimmering harmonies … brilliant. The surf-punky “Woman of the Tunes” and the punchy “Anger Cherry” (which also has that riding-the-waves vibe) are just about as good.
Other treats are the nursery-rhyme, sing-songy “Fingers in the Rain;” the lyrically clever, erotic “My Name Was Yes;” the soulful ode to dominance and submission “Dominique;” and the new wave/flamenco (check out Larry’s acoustic solo) “Gone.”
Thanks, Histrioniks, for shaking me out of my rut and reminding me that a fresh dose of 2007 rock can remind me of so much great music I had forgotten about.