Local Record Review: Ugly Girls from Santa Ana

Local Record Review: Ugly Girls from Santa Ana

Beat Blvd. is Heard Mentality's weekly review of local releases. If you're an OC musician or band with something new to offer--vinyl single, full length album, CD, cassette--we want to hear from you! Send copies, along with any photos and PR material, to Beat Blvd., c/o OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Suite 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. You can also e-mail us digital downloads at lbose@ocweekly.com.

Ugly Girls
 Ugly Girls
 TDL Recordings

Despite the name, Santa Ana's Ugly Girls are three guys--then again, given the paper bags they wear on their MySpace site, that might explain the name. Regardless of whatever impulses were behind the moniker, on their debut the trio finds it own way around 1990s inspirations.

Mostly, they eschew the demi-slacker/shoegaze revamp for the kind of tensely wound screech and scream familiar to those who loved Unwound or most of the Gravity Records roster. (That you can apply the terms "emo" and "angular" to that, all while the words have ended up meaning something else entirely.)

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The stop-start arrangements on songs like "Prosthetic" are almost exactly the kind part-metal/part-prog/part-whatever touch that ended up underpinning a lot of that time and place, while still sounding aggressively arty in a scrappy rather than overly polished.

What's interesting as well is how the rougher opening leads to an increasingly serener midsection and further--moments like the gentle acoustic breakdown on "About Me" and the slower and calmer not-quite-a-ballad-but-not-anything-else "La Femme" are among the album's best.

"Summer of Aporias" is downright pretty thanks to its hint (but no more) of sunblissed gaze. Being the sum of its parts means that they're still finding a distinct sound of their own, given the band drawing on their own collective experience in other projects, but it's a solid start for whatever might be next.

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