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Weekly Release Spotlight: The Casket Girls

Posted on 12/17/2012

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The Casket Girls
Sleepwalking

[Graveface]

I've been listening to Sleepwalking ever since it was put into Radio K rotation early last month, and yet it was only yesterday that I found out the group was affiliated with Black Moth Super Rainbow. Frankly, I'm astounded that I hadn't realized it on my own, considering the opening track "Walking on a Wire" begins with a cough-syrup thick guitar riff that could only be attributed to Ryan Graveface, who plays bandleader with this new project. Graveface has certainly had a busy year, what with this album on the heels of BMSR's Cobra Juicy, both of which were issued on his own label, Graveface Records (which is also home to two fantastic local artists, Haley Bonar and Kid Dakota).
 
Aforementioned opener "Walking on a Wire" consummates with the line "Maybe we weren't meant for these times", which seems apt considering the group's origins: Graveface approached Savannah, Georgia street performers Elsa and Phaendra Greene with the hopes of forming a modern girl group in the vein of 1960s group the Shangri-Las. When Graveface's dreamy yet dubious shoegaze instrumentals are utilized by BMSR, they create an arresting, abrasive environment. When stripped of intimidating elements like Tobacco's vocoder verses and synthesizers that sound like dolphins on tranquilizers (that's a compliment), the same aesthetics play backdrop for a chilled-out gothic girl group revival just as well.
 
I'm still almost surprised that all of these elements work together so well. Sleepwalking has enough experimental ingenuity to avoid hiding behind its walls of sound with danceable "Heartless" and spoken-word ghost story "The Visitor". At the same time, the album subverts the common shoegaze pratfall of unmanageable, drawn-out sonic experiments in favor of fine-tuned pieces of pop like "Give It All Away" and standout title track "Sleepwalking". Considering the fates of most girl groups in their heyday (if you were in the Ronettes, you had a 1/3 chance of being psychologically abused by Phil Spector!) and the futility of recent indie revivals (what ever happened to the Pipettes?), forming one in 2012 may seem like a vain venture. The Casket Girls, however, show enough promise that I can't help but expect great things from them. I mean, girl groups are flourishing in South Korea right now, so if that's what it takes...

Written by Ross Koeberl, Radio K volunteer.

Tags: The Casket Girls Sleepwalking weekly release spotlight