Release Date: Oct 7, 2008
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
The hype building up to it was relatively small, so Women's dynamic first record came out of nowhere. Not since TV on the Radio's Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes had a debut been as nervously energetic and singular as Women was. For an ever-shifting half-hour, that album refused to pick a sound ….
Women are not Women; a point ubiquitously brought up for both clarification and irony, and rightfully so. By dismissing of a band name that attempts to evoke something pseudo-equivalent to ourselves and/or the resultant music, their title has become a trompe-le-monde just as much as the scattered debris of musical touchstones that is the record. The brief opening track Cameras punches in with a palm-muted strum, becoming a jerky, minute-long sprint that shortly bows into Lawncare.
The four men who make up Women know a thing or two about confined spaces. This debut album by the band, which clocks in at just 30 minutes, is so densely packed with sound that it feels like their songs are pushing down hard on your skull. The arid air that filters through Women is in marked contrast to the band’s origins in the foothills and wide-open spaces of their native Calgary.
The Canadian quartet Women have a bit of a split personality. On the one hand they write angularly catchy indie rock songs that owe much to Pavement and Eric's Trip among others, on the other they indulge in the kind of overloaded guitar noise that bands like Sonic Youth built a career on. Their debut self-titled album sounds like it was recorded (by Sub Pop recording artist Chad VanGaalen, who also adds instrumentation here and there) onto a cheap cassette found on a truck stop bathroom floor, and yet the melodic gifts the group possess are undeniable.
Calgary shoots and scores with the self-titled debut album from Women. Recorded by the Polaris Music Prize nominated Chad VanGaalen through a series of boom boxes and archaic tape machines in the Canadian wilderness, the sound here is of a young slacker band coming to terms with their Pavement and Velvet Underground roots. They have no problem at all surfing through dense ambient but uncomfortable soundscapes and post-punk caterwauling just to land on a distorted ‘80s indie or dissonant ‘50s pop vibe.
Stepping out on Calgary’s best indie boutique label, Flemish Eye, Women offer up a solid debut of complex, lo-?fi avant-?pop. On Lawncare, reverb-?laden vocals haunt arty guitar lines while a wall of static battles an eclectic combo of electronic and acoustic drums. Black Rice relies heavily on a 60s British psych influence, complete with soaring falsettos and glockenspiel accompaniment.
Sub Pop musician Chad VanGaalen recorded this Calgary quartet in a basement and crawl space, and while there's certainly four-track grime there, what saves Women's debut is variety. The sweet pop of "Cameras" and "Black Rice" are spaced equally from the squall of "January 8th" and "Flashlights" and the more fast-paced instrumental guitar mazes of "Sag Harbor Bridge" and "Lawncare. " Women obviously has late-1970s/early-1990s influences, but the meat has separated from the bone in a fashion quite its own; there's no discernible singer, they cover a lot of sonic territory, and Women's relatively short for 10 songs.