Don’t let the fratty name scare you away: Boston band Girls Guns and Glory have a lot of good things going on, if you like your powerpop with a country twang. Their album Sweet Nothings came out early last fall – it’s driving music with country-flavored vocals and tunes that evoke both C&W and Cheap Trick. Ballsier than Deer Tick and the Mumford clan, infinitely smarter than the Drive By Truckers, the album has fat, big-room production values – even the handclaps have a ton of reverb on them. This band is all about the tunes: sometimes the lyrics are surprisingly and memorably thoughtful, other times they’re pretty meh.
The opening track, Baby’s Got a Dream, sets the stage for the rest of the album, a big anthem with lusciously liquid organ and watery chorus-box guitar. And a wistful/bitter lyric:
She loves me not
Pick up the petals and watch them drop
Pick them back up, needle and thread
All stitched up, play the game again
The album’s title track is a shuffing boogie tune, followed by the beefed-up rockabilly song Nighttime (as in “nighttime is a hard place to be, that’s where the demons find me”). After that, there’s the slow ballad Last Night I Dreamed (nighttime is a recurrent theme here) with warm washes of steel guitar, then the snarling powerpop song Mary Anne with its artfully kick-ass layers of electric and acoustic guitars. As a kiss-off song, it doesn’t waste time getting to the point, and it’s the album’s strongest track.
Root Cellar sounds kind of like Creedence doing Hank Williams – but with vocals that are actually understandable. 1000 Times evokes the BoDeans, as does the bitter backbeat rock tune This Old House. Snake Skin Belt brings back the rocking Hank Williams vibe, with a cool, Brian Setzer-ish guitar solo, while Not a Girl Left in the World is wickedly catchy, purist highway rock that strongly reminds of the Del Lords (who have a long, long-awaited new album in the works). Some people will call this stuff bar-band music – and the band name won’t discourage anybody from making that assumption. But this is a style of music where everybody sounds a little (or a lot) like someone else – that’s why, when it’s good, like with this band, it’s a lot of fun. Fans of loud, energetic acts who bring a rock influence into country, or vice versa – the BoDeans, the Newton Gang, the late, lamented Hangdogs – should check them out.