Girls Names / Richard Dawson live in Control

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Strada Constantin Mille 4, București, Romania


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The Belfast, Ireland group Girls Names formed in 2009, initially as a duo consisting of guitarist/vocalist Cathal Cullyand novice drummer Neil Brogan. They started off with a noisy sound that nodded to old-school indie pop acts like Beat Happening, Field Mice, and Josef K. Bassist Claire Miskimmin, whom Cully had to teach the basics of her instrument before she joined, was brought on board as a full-fledged member of Girls Names the following year. Girls Names' demos were released on cassette tape on the Belfast-based label Cass/Flick soon after they formed, and their first mini-album, You Should Know by Now, was released on Tough Love in the spring of 2010. A 12" EP on Captured Tracks, Don't Let Me In, followed soon after. The band signed to Slumberland and early in 2011 released their debut album Dead to Me. After releasing a split single with the band Weird Dreams in 2012, they added another guitarist, Phil Quinn of the band Charles Hurts, to the lineup and began working on a new album. The first single, the nearly eight-minute-long "The New Life" (with a remix by J.D. Twitch of Optimo on the B-side)," signaled a change to a more expansive, post-punk influenced sound. Their second album, The New Life, was released in early 2013 by Tough Love in the U.K. and Slumberland in the U.S. Soon after the album, Brogan left the band and was replaced by Gib Cassidy of Logikparty. After the tour for New Life ended, the band decamped to an isolated cottage for a week to write the next album. After more touring and honing of material, they hit the studio in a more experimental mood. Their third album, Arms Around A Vision, reflected this new outlook, presenting a more dynamic post-punk approach. It was released by Tough Love in October of 2015.


Rising up from the bed of the River Tyne, a voice that crumbles and soars, that is steeped in age-old balladry and finely-chiselled observations of the mundane, Richard Dawson is a skewed troubadour at once charming and abrasive. His shambolically virtuosic guitar playing stumbles from music-hall tune-smithery to spidery swatches of noise-colour, swathed in amp static and teetering on the edge of feedback. His songs are both chucklesome and tragic, rooted in a febrile imagination that references worlds held dear and worlds unknown.
Both live and on record Dawson is a barrage of musical expression and personality. A shambling exterior, amidst tales of pineapples and underpants, ghosts of family members and cats, his stage presence is at once inviting and awe-inspiring. The visceral power of his voice against the lurching modality of his guitar lines conjure false memories of Tim Buckley and Richard Youngs duetting with Sir Richard Bishop and Zoot Horn Rollo. There is a rawness to the music that embodies timeworn singing traditions – the fire and pestilence gait of the Sacred Harp singings, the fractured call and response of the Gaelic Psalms, the unbridled power of Mongolian throat singers – its power tempered by intimacy, flecked with human emotion anchored by a sense of place.

Richard spent years incubating his singular art, becoming a quiet legend on the Newcastle experimental scene before exploding across the UK and Europe with the delicately observed personal lilt of his 2012 album The Magic Bridge. Invitations followed to perform at Kraak, Supersonic, and Latitude festivals as well as being lauded by Late Junction and The Wire, all of which saw him step musically and emotionally outside of Tyneside.
In 2013 Dawson was invited to delve deep into the vaults of the Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, from the bowels of which he extracted tales of fatherly joy, but also the trials of young men killing a horse. These nuggets of the past were local, rooted in the land and lore of his home, and the subsequent 2013 album The Glass Trunk was a powerful re-evocation of a North East identity. Here the solo voice was adjacent to a new figuration, alongside noise harpist Rhodri Davies he forged flagellating washes of sound, a musical counterpoint to the unsullied balladry.
This path of artistry and experimentation has resulted in a new album for 2014, one where integrity of voice and adventurous music making are welded with the energy of Dawson’s live performance.
Nothing Important is a journey into the mind of Richard Dawson, like a visit to a faith healer one’s own reality melts away as sinewy guitar lines ricochet beneath wavering, spitting lungpower. He picks out wandering melodies, with warped, atonal harmonies wafting in and out of focus; at times the guitar is a second ghostly voice, at others a growling primal stomp driving rabidly forward.