Cheap Girls – “Famous Graves”
Extra Mile records are one of those labels where you kind of know that any release is going to be one of quality. This is certainly true of the latest record from the Michigan Trio known as Cheap Girls. This is the fourth album for a band who have built up a really strong reputation for delivering an ‘alternative’ sound but with a nod to a commercial pop rock influence.
The album certainly opens up in fine style with “Slow Nod” which is a great, crunching song that mixes a power pop tune with a punk rock sound. It’s a successful formula which features through out this album on songs like “Amazing Grace” and “Man In Question”. The second track, “Short-Cut Days” sees an emphasis on a ‘warmer’ side to the band with a less punk feel. The vocals actually have a resemblance to Michael Stipe of REM. In fact, a few of the more melodic songs are kind of like an REM with balls. “Knock Me Over” is a classic example of this with its American alternative feel. Similarly, “2nd Floor” is again a softer sounding song, but it still has that alternative pop type shine to it.
The punk ethic is still there, however, as shown by “Pure Hate”. They up their punkier side at least until they reach the bridge and chorus which then sees them divert in to a sound which is almost like another classic cult band, The Posies. The punk thrill is still there on “Thought Senseless” but it’s still built on a sweeter side as shown by the swaggering guitar line and upbeat drums which build to a great melodic chorus.
The album then ends on a more restrained and thoughtful note with “Turns”. It might actually have been a better option to have placed this song as a mid album ‘break’. This would have provided a nice change in pace.
Overall, Cheap Girls sound like a band that have learnt their craft from some classic American influences, one of the most obvious probably being The Replacements. They’re a band who have probably grown up from a punk ethic and roots but have now learnt to appreciate the importance of a melody. This album sees them deliver a fine slab of power pop melodies with added punk grit. It’s a polished and expertly delivered set of tunes but you would anticipate that the greater joy will be from hearing them delivered live with that added spark of spontaneity.