Local Record Review: Ugly Girls from Santa Ana

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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.)

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.

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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