The music that we buy on iTunes or watch on television (if they show music on television anymore) is often disingenuous advertising. It is design, image, choreography and marketing. Some, (most likely your parents) resent these qualities in contemporary music and enjoy recalling “simpler times” when songs were written with emotion, performed with passion and could bring you to tears.
Well, for those individuals all hope is not lost. Christopher Owens, lead singer of Girls is proof of that. Owens’ vocals are the poignant, heart-wrenching stuff of Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison mixed with the charismatic performance of Dwight Yoakam. He fronts a band with the charming innocence of early Beach Boys. The music is sad, reflective, youthful and beautiful.
Sometimes surf rock, other times drunken country; the guys in Girls breezed through hits from the 2009 release, Album. The backstory on Owens is important in understanding his band’s music. He grew up into his late teens as a member of a cult called The Children of God. His father left and his mother was forced into prostitution. Owens eventually found himself in California after a brief time living in Texas and it was there in San Francisco that he and Chet ‘J.R’ White formed Girls and put his lifetime of introspection to music. While years of living in a cult increased Owens’ insatiable appetite for rock ‘n’ roll and all its toxic temptations, there still lies an audible sense of purity and innocence in the music of Girls that can be linked to the institution.
Songs like the prancing “Laura,” the summery “Lust For Life” or the stark and sad “Hellhole Ratrace” stood out on this evening as examples of the bands’ wonderful synergy and of Owens’ poetic lyricism. The highlight came with a crescendo of distortion closing out “Ratrace” and leading into the joyously psychedelic and bittersweet “Morning Light.” The quivering pained vocals here speak to Owens’ talents as a performer and songwriter.
“Meet me in the morning light / We know it won’t last forever / Wear it out while it feels right / We know that it’s now or never.”