Dead To Me: Girls Names

Track by track guide...
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The current glut of indie pop has been as welcome as it is overwhelming.

The United States seems to be swarming with new groups, weighed down with fuzz pedals and a well worn copy of 'Psychocandy'. Now it seems that the contagion has - finally - reached British shores.

A host of new groups are emerging on a daily basis, with new labels, fanzines and even festivals forming to support them.

Hailing from Northern Ireland, Girls Names caught our attention via a split seven inch last year. Heading into the studio to work on their debut album, the band make the kind of off kilter guitar pop which fuelled those classic early Pastels albums.

Indebted to the indie pop tradition (that classic lineage of Reid, McRobbie, Murdoch etc) Girls Names are beginning to find their own identity. Debut album 'Dead To Me' is a genre piece, for sure, but what strikes you most strongly is that the trio are continually chafing against the constraints of their influences, pushing on to find their own voice.

A determined first step, ClashMusic tracked down Girls Names frontman Cathal Cully for a quick guide to their debut album...

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1.Lawrence
I love the opening to this. It was really simply and quickly done with one guitar through an old tape echo machine. It sets the album up nicely. The name was just a working title that stuck. It’s more of a homage to the Felt song “All the people I like are those that our dead” and not necessarily the man himself.

2. I Could Die
I couldn’t afford much studio time so all the vocals for the album were done in a day and this is the most painful to listen to for me. I sound so nasally after being stuck in a fusty studio all day. I can’t really remember much of the writing process either. I just know that at the time, I wanted to start writing twisted, perverse pop music - A real catchy number but with doomed lyrics.

3. When You Cry
It’s just about non-communication. Lots of scratchy Postcardesque guitars adorn this song – I think there was something like 13 guitar tracks at various points throughout the song. Can we finally claim to be a hi-fi band now?

4. No More Words
Although the guitars are quite clean, they are really abrasive and aggressive in this. Before it was mastered, this really would have cut your ears in two. It’s an older song. “I’m sick of all this talking…” says it all really.

5. Nothing More to Say
Just a throwaway surf-pop ditty born out of frustration. Probably the quickest song written on the album and the shortest. The little solos at the end were only conceived when we were in the studio. It just happened.

6. I lose
This song was previously aborted from a recording session in 2009 as it wasn’t quite ready. I’m glad I stuck at it and sorted it out. It’s the first single that was taken from the album and definitely showed a distinct bridge from our previous EPs to where we are with the album. If you want to know what it’s about you’ll have to ask Brilliant Colors who we released a split 7” with late last year. Their track was called ‘You win’ and so ours is a response to that.

7. Cut up
Again, this one gets a bit noisy with more abrasive, high end, reverb heavy guitars. No digital reverbs were used on any of the guitars on the LP. I have a Danelectro Spring King reverb pedal and we put amps in the stairwell and hallway beside the studio for extra ambiance. All in all I think 5 different guitars where used – 2 Fender Jaguars, a Danelectro U2, a Squier 51 and a Fender Tele Deluxe, and 4 different amps - my Vox ac15, an old Fender Twin, an old Farfissa sold state Organ amp and a Fender Blues Junior. I’m sure there’s a healthy combination of these used in this song.

8. Bury Me
For me, this is the stand out track on the album. It’s cyclical and repetitive and has one of the stranger structures of any of the songs on the LP, but I certainly thought at the time it was the best thing I had written up until that point. The bass line, although dead simple, is key to setting the atmosphere to this one. I didn’t realize how much at the time, but just the other week I noticed that, if you listen to those chord stabs in the background, I’ve borrowed a lot from Rowland S. Howard’s guitar playing and sound. And it’s really not that morbid at all, it’s more about feelings, rather than literal meanings.

9. Kiss Goodbye
I think the drone organ at the opening and end was the last thing to be recorded on the whole LP and it was the one thing we deliberated and split hairs with the most even though it was only one note - a mixture of cabin fever and the added pressure of studio time i.e. money ticking away. It was Neil’s idea to get Claire to do the backing vocals to turn it into a proper doo wop song. She’s got a beautiful voice and it really complemented my rougher darker croon. I also love the piano line he plays in the middle. It’s so faint and ghost like that it’s almost not there, like a distant memory, I suppose.

10. Séance on a wet afternoon.
No surprise then that this is about the film. Again we played with tape echo machines for the end of this. Every time I listen to it, I’m sure I can hear a man screaming towards the end - a ghost in the machine you could say! It’s probably the darkest song on the album and is a great prelude for our newer material and for what is to come in album no.2 which is shaping up to definitely see us fall deeper into murkier territory.

GIRLS NAMES - Séance on a Wet Afternoon from Girls Names on Vimeo.



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Dead To Me is out now.

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