Goat Girl have become something of a sensation in recent months/years. Their own distinctive brand of country-tinged indie has taken London by storm, leading to them being described as the ‘casual saviours of underground indie‘ who are ‘rebuilding London’s indie scene‘, as though these magazines have never heard of Fat White Family, The Big Moon or any of the other numerous indie bands coming out of London at the moment (or, for that matter, the rest of the country).
Goat Girl’s new single, ‘Crow Cries’, takes the same sonic formula as their earlier releases, opening with a sound that wouldn’t sound out of place in an old Spaghetti Western. As it drops into double time, though, it sounds more like the Americana of Chris Isaaks, set apart from this tradition only by the growling distortion that takes over the guitars and bass right at the back of the mix, before pulling back into halftime for a lazy, stoner chorus, with falsetto vocals soaring over the top.
That Goat Girl haven’t sacrificed their frantic punk roots is evidenced not only by the music, but by the criminally short 2:10 this track clocks in at. To tell you the truth, it would have been nice if an extra chorus had been stuck on the end, or even just a bit more of an outro; the track feels only two-thirds finished, and isn’t quite glaring or frenetic enough to live up to such a short life.
Nevertheless, Goat Girl have succeeded in following up their last track—the excellent ‘Country Sleaze’—with an equally moody, lethargic number; it’s the type of music you could get stoned to, but sounds like it would be fun as hell to see live.
The b-side of ‘Crow Cries’, ‘Mighty Despair’, is another excellently lazy track, this time led by a drum machine and a reverb-laden, twanging guitars. At five minutes, its a little more fleshed out than ‘Crow Cries’, but nowhere near as urgent, especially when the listener is faced by vocals more disdainful than dialogue from a J. D. Salinger story. And whether it’s on purpose or not, the single skips at around 3:20, as though the final mix froze as they were exporting the bounce. This only adds to the lazy, DIY, don’t-give-a-fuck image they and other bands at the moment are trying to cultivate. (But it would be nice if the track played properly—I’m certain it’s not just my laptop.)
Goat Girl’s new single places them firmly within London’s indie rock tradition, and they’ve got themselves on Rough Trade at a time when rock music is having something of a resurgence across the country, with bands like The Seamonsters in the North, Honey Blood in Scotland and myriad bands in South London all making their own distinctive brands of indie and garage rock. Goat Girl do sound a little different, though country-infused indie music is also being dabbled with by bands like YOWL. It’ll be interesting to see whether this resurgence can go the distance and leave a lasting impression on the music scene, or whether it will fade out like the one that started ~15 years ago did. ‘Crow Cries’ is a good indication that it might just be the former, but I have a feeling there needs to be more drastic music coming out for an impact to really be made.