GROSS NET/GIRLS NAMES. The Lexington. 19th February 2016.




I shouldn’t have gone out last night. I’m ill, I guess. But not in a conventional “I have a cold” kind of way but in a “no one knows what’s wrong with me, I’m in pain and I want to cry” kind of me. Apparently it’s the nerves in my neck. I’m a clumsy fucker at the best of times, but I know I’ve not done anything recently to warrant doing such damage. Although, I have a slight disregard for my general well-being so who knows! Standing for a few hours was the dumbest thing I could have done, and I’ve only just managed to get out of bed. I’ve got my own playlist sorted for my MRI scan next week/week after, and as someone who can’t sit still I’ve most definitely picked the wrong kind of songs to listen to. Moving on and pain aside. Gross Net. Girls Names. Last night.

Gross Net is Phil from Girls Names making a lot of noise and probably terrifying the crowd. In certain places, I’m sure they wouldn’t “get” it. Places like London and Manchester would and did. As Gross Net, Phil pretty much seems like a young Nick Cave circa Boys Next Door/The Birthday Party. When he’s not holding his guitar, he grips the mic and flails it around as if his life depends on it. Seeing a band or singer expose themselves like this what makes them believable and it is what makes them so easy to relate to. To make his set even better, I got a song dedication. If I was in a band, I’d probably pick people out and aim songs at them. Be fruity kids, it’s fine. With a knowing point and my name spoken through the mic, Phil rips into a song that I was pretty pleased to have dedicated to me. He closed his set with a song for those on the dole. I’m fairly sure most weren’t expecting this kind of declaration on a Friday night, but who cares. I loved every minute of it, and I was immediately back in 2010-2011 when I spent too much time on the dole and having my soul crushed by the job centre every Friday for £70 a week. I coped, just about. Time changes everything to an extent. Phil ends this song screaming into the mic in the crowd, as the end of the song draws near he places the mic around the neck of a bewildered person in the crowd and walks off. The guy had no idea what to do, gave it a few minutes and removed the mic from his neck and placed it on the ground. Far too polite.

I’ve been a fan of Girls Names for ages but this was the first time seeing them live. I was immediately drawn to bassist, Claire and how she is probably one of the best bassist I’ve ever seen. Now, if I was going to list my favourite live bands I would easily put Girls Names in the top 5. Maybe it’s because they were playing one of the best venues in the country or maybe, maybe it’s because they are just so fucking(sorry) good. I firmly believe that when you go to a gig, you should leave wanting to start a band. Girls Names did more than this. I felt like I was watching The Fall or The Jesus And Mary Chain for the first time. I felt like I had gone back in time and I was anywhere but in London. Maybe I was in the depths of Berlin or maybe I was in an alleyway in Manchester; I don’t know. But I do know that gigs like this just stick in my mind for a long, long time.

What I loved about their show last night was that each person in the band got their chance to show us all what they’re made of. I loved during the encore Phil was going into Claire’s bass as if he was telling her to get out of his space. It was in a sibling kind of way- a gentle shove and neither was going to back down. Cathal was ramming his guitar into the speaker behind him giving off this excess feedback which just made you wish the show wasn’t about to end. Gib was beating the crap out of the drums with such fury. These Belfast bruisers make enough noise for anyone to go slightly deaf, and that’s part of the charm. If a band is wonderfully and obnoxiously loud, I’ll probably love them. Girls Names last night easily cemented why they are probably one of the best bands around. I could go on for ages about how great they were and hope they just sum up everything I love about music. They have a sound that I’m always looking for. They remind me of bands I love such as Bauhaus and Cold Cave but they also sound like nothing else. They are a band to be treasured and seen at any chance one gets.

On record they are noisy but I firmly believe that Girls Names are one of those bands that you just have to see, and sometimes London crowds have a rep of being a bunch of stale dicks but in this case, they really weren’t. This was one of the best crowds I’ve seen and I’m fairly sure that’s part of what made the show last night nothing short of perfect. Their dark but entirely comforting sound may be a turn off for those who want conventional and tame sounds- don’t surround yourself with people who want that. Go find those who aren’t afraid to be engulfed by sounds so dark, creepy and loud. Let the sounds rip through you and let the lyrics make you question everything, and everyone. They’re the kind of band I wish I was in. I’ve said it loads but this is the kind of music I’d probably make if I had any musical talent.

Go see them, let them deafen you and buy one of Phil’s “reasonably priced tapes.”

GIRLS NAMES- Arms Around A Vision.

With it finally getting colder, it’s important to find music that makes it easier to deal with dark mornings that make you question why you’re leaving the house. I like my job, so for me it’s just the effort of having to deal with rude people on the tube every morning. Stop pushing people out the way and PLEASE brush your teeth before you leave the house, or have a mint. Coffee breath just makes me want to vomit. Awful. Gentle rage aside, I’m now going to write about a band who I love (obviously) and why their new record is (again,obviously) a stroke of genius.

Girls Names are one of those bands that managed to merge everything I love and look for in music into one. They sound like Mark E Smith in a fight with Edwyn Collins, with a bit of Josef K thrown in. For me it is music heaven. I’m not really sure what anyone else thinks, but I’m not fussed. Arms Around A Vision is a record that much like what I’ve written about recently, doesn’t make me feel like I am in 2015. Which let’s be honest, isn’t really a bad thing. Everything now revolves around how many people “know” you via social media sites rather than who actually gives a fuck about you. We’re all deathly scared of being lonely or being unlike our peers that we try too hard to be like them and losing any sense of a personality we once had. In short, Girls Names make me forget how awful everything is and how I feel like I am always on the outside looking in. I’ve never felt part of anything or like I “belonged.” This isn’t in a “woe is me” way. It’s just my interests don’t revolve around being drunk or taking a photo of myself whilst making everyone believe I am having a nice time. I’m sat in bed, listening to a band I love. Occasionally I look out the window, and I can see the lights of planes above my house. For me, that’s a nice time. I’m a bore to most. To myself? It doesn’t matter. Girls Names have this power in their new record to make you see things for how they are and taking you away from it.

Arms Around A Vision is made up of brilliant moments that show you exactly how great Girls Names are. I’m fully aware that’s a mundane statement. but it is entirely true. It’s a record to really gush about. It’s a record to fall in love with, and tell all your pals about. It’s like meeting someone who changes your life in a way no one else will understand, but you still want to tell everyone about. You get that instantly with the record, and records like that are hard to find. Some may struggle to “get” this record and dismiss it for what it isn’t. But as someone who absolutely adores this magnificent Belfast band, it is fair to say that it is a massive music highlight of the year. The songs make you feel like you’re in dark pub watching characters go about their business as you tuck into a stale bag of crisps. This is a record to listen to as you let the day pass you by. It’s a record to vent your frustrations out to. Sometimes I struggle with writing about music because the words don’t seem to want to come out, but Arms Around A Vision has triggered something.

What I love about Girls Names is their poetic and industrial atmosphere in their music. It feels like a grey day, for some that’s an insult but it’s so far from that. It is one of those records that you have to listen to when it is either night-time or the sky is a menacing grey. It’s the kind of record that sounds mighty fine now as it would in the 70s/80s. It’s got the guts of Punk and twinges of others. It’s like Suicide messed around with The Fall. I’m sure they’ve had every comparison under the sun lobbed at them, but I’m just mentioning bands I love and picking up on possible influences. It’s a hypnotic record from start to finish. Each song follows the other in a careful manner, and this effortlessly brilliant record should be high on everyone’s lists come the end of the year. I don’t like lists, but it’d be in my top 5 easily. It feels like you’ve been gripped by some unknown yet magnetic force. It doesn’t let you go, like a chokehold and as you gasp for air you start to struggle less and fall under the spell of Girls Names. Stunning.

I’ve been listening to Arms Around A Vision most evenings for the past week, and I’m trying to pick a song out as my favourite. It’s impossible. Each song fits perfectly into the other, creating something quite poetic in the mind. It has this haunting feeling of The Cure’s Seventeen Seconds. That’s a record I’ve used a reference for so many. What I mean is, if a record or song moves me in the same way that Seventeen Seconds does, then I know I’ve found something I’ll be listening to for a long long time. Girls Names have easily created something influential with this record. They make you want to make your own noise, on your own terms. The dark and eerie atmosphere on this record is heavenly and it is quite easy to shut everything off around you and just play this over and over. Lose your mind over this record.

UK tour starts next week:

15/10 – Liverpool – The Shipping Forecast
16/10 – Leeds – Beacons Festival Headrow House
17/10 – Leicester – The Musician Pub
18/10 – Bristol – START THE BUS
19/10 – London – The 100 Club
21/10 – Brighton – The Hope & Ruin

Followed by European dates. If I had the £££ I’d LOVE to see them in Brussels. I adore Brussels and I’m pretty sure they are a band that would sound perfect there.

Arms Around A Vision is out now. Buy it.