Girls on Grass | Dirty Power

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Dirty Power

by Girls on Grass

Sophomore effort that continues Barbara Endes's lay-it-on-the-line approach to songcraft, but ups the ante musically with guitar interplay that's equal parts Sticky Fingers and Marquee Moon.
Genre: Rock: Garage Rock
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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Down at the Bottom
3:17 $0.99
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2. Street Fight
3:04 $0.99
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3. Friday Night
2:51 $0.99
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4. Got to Laugh to Keep from Cryin'
3:48 $0.99
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5. Two Places at Once
4:18 $0.99
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6. Into the Sun
3:57 $0.99
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7. Because Capitalism
3:24 $0.99
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8. John Doe
3:18 $0.99
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9. Asesino
3:14 $0.99
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10. Commander in Thief
3:26 $0.99
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11. Thoughts Are Free
3:55 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Barbara Endes’s lyrics have the kind of simple, unblinking directness that takes you
aback; you find yourself muttering something like, “Hey—what kind of hipster irony
is this?”—’cause, you know, she looks fairly regulation hipster on stage: floral thrift
store frock, heavy-duty boots—but as you listen, and then find yourself returning
who knows how many more times—because the whole band really effing rocks, and
they seem to have all the right (but completely disparate) influences—it dawns
upon you: this is actually some sort of Midwestern gal who means exactly what she
says.

Brooklyn-based Girls on Grass, despite their moniker, is precisely 50% girl—
Barbara (writer, singer, guitarist), drummer Nancy Polstein (the Friggs, Cheri
Knight, Star City)—and 50% boy: blues/alt-country vet David Weiss on lead guitar
(replacing Sean Eden), and WFMU’s own Dave Mandl on bass. Upon her arrival in
NYC in 2004, Barbara served time in a handful of bands; it took a decade for her
songwriting identity to blossom, and when it did, it contained multitudes: not only
her Wisconsin working-class folk-country sensibility, but all the strains she took in
as a kid and as a working musician. Think very, very melodic roots-y but also psych-
inflected bands: the dBs, the Rain Parade, plus a big dose of surf and rockabilly. Plus,
just warm as heck.

But that’s not all. She’s an architect too. Seriously. But that’s not all, either: she’s sort
of a guitar hero. Think Dickey-Betts-meets-Tom-Verlaine. Precisely executed,
angular lines, played left-handed. But that’s not all, either, because this is really a
band, one that, upon their 2014 live debut (at Freddy’s Back Room) seems to have
become the favorite of an alarming number of people. On Barbara’s left is Dave #1:
the Tele guy who can effortlessly channel the likes of Roy Buchanan, Clarence White,
or Richard Thompson as he plays in deft counterpoint to Barbara’s guitar. On her
right is Dave #2, the melodic-but-grooving bass guy, who seems to always come up
with the perfect but completely unexpected part. And behind her, holding
everything together is Nancy, a drummer who really knows how to support a song,
but can unleash a Bonham-esque stadium fill when such a thing is called for.

Dirty Power, their about-to-be-released sophomore effort, is a stunning collection
that continues Barbara’s lay-it-on-the-line approach to songcraft but ups the ante
musically with a more-developed guitar interplay that’s equal parts Sticky Fingers
and Marquee Moon. Girls on Grass recorded Dirty Power with producer Eric Ambel
(alum of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Del-Lords, Blood Oranges) and engineer Mario
Viele, with mixing by Michael James.

Things sound a bit richer this time around, noticeably the vocal harmonies. There’s
also more a distinctly political edge— which only occasionally turns literal, as in the
pounding, garage-y “Commander in Thief” (guess who?)—but even then, the lyrics
side-steps the obvious. Come to think of think of it, this is kind of a (gasp) concept
album: a meditation on how power, in its various forms, shapes both our private and
public lives. And how these realms interpenetrate.

Dirty Power is bookended by “Down at the Bottom,” which sets the tone with an
invitation from our girl to join her in opting out of a hypercompetitive society, and
“Thoughts Are Free,” which makes a poignant case for love over conformity. Its
concluding line: “You’re the only responsibility I don’t want to avoid.”
In between, the personal and political vie for equal time; in “Street Fight,” our
singer is a righteous bicyclist, in “Friday Night” she’s in the throes of an awkward
teen crush. “Got to Laugh to Keep from Crying” features the immortal line, “Left my
man for a woman who looks like Aimee Mann”(!), and the amazing “Into the Sun” is
a rousing cry for freedom—from a pig in captivity. All this and two (count ’em)
instrumentals, of the psych-surf and Balkan variety, respectively. Oh yeah, and a
great song recounting the time John Doe wrote in her journal LOTS TO DO, DON’T
WAIT. She didn’t.

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