08 June 2011

review: Skylar Gudasz & The Ugly Girls- Two Headed Monster

Originally Published at The Blue Indian on June 7, 2011.

After the bizarre announcement earlier this year that Rufus Wainwright would father the resulting offspring of himself and Leonard Cohen’s daughter, the mere metaphor of musical love-childhood largely pales. Skylar Gudasz may not be the real or imagined kin of such folk giants as a Cohen, a Wainwright, or, say Joni Mitchell, but her and her compatriots’ debut forces such family resemblances.

Two Headed Monster, while clocking in at a all-too-brief twenty nine minutes, weaves tales of midnight-lovers and dream-believers, while painting airy, tranced, sonic landscapes. From the opener, which sits you on the steps of a house in Nowheresville (which simultaneously doubles as Anytown, USA), there is both a fantastic unfamiliarity and a comforting mundanity to the scenery that only happens while you dream.

The warm, trademarked organ whir of producer Jeff Crawford continues on the second track, Killing, perhaps the most accessible and infectious of the album. Gudasz leaves behind the mystery and mystique of Hotel Chelsea lobby muzak for a just a moment to surprisingly channel the absolute best of a nineties coffeehouse Sheryl Crow.

Bison re-injects the kind of tension and drama that can only lead to the extrication of someone who “ain’t taking your words as roots no more.” The freedom of her characters’ newfound “fast sets of legs” sprint throughout the remainder of the album amid the Ugly Girls’ (spoiler alert: they’re really boys!) poppy “badda bahs” and William Taylor’s precise tone on his diligent solos. Skylar’s voice only gets deeper and richer as the album winds to the end of its breathless half hour.

The shape-noted O West closes by employing a gifted choir of some of Triangle NC’s finest young guns. As the choristers’ voices rise Casey Toll’s gravitational double bass tethers the ghoulish party to the studio floor. Keep your eye and ears on this young band, such a mature debut can only lead to yet unexplored, dreamier, more expansive vistas.

Rating: 8/10

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