By Travis Jeppesen.
The noise furnished by New York City quartet Girls Against Boys has consistently defied comparison and categorization. Dangling somewhere between the distorted melancholic intensity of early ’90s Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Archers of Loaf, Superchunk, Picasso Trigger) and the harder edges of Washington, D.C. punk (which makes sense, as these guys originally played in the Dischord band Soulside), their most recent releases have thrown electronica into the mix. This is polluted, metallic East Coast artcore at its grittiest; music that leaves behind alternarock angst in favor of a tempered, sexy coolness that pervades on every level, from the thumping double-bass foundation to the three-pack-a-day habit of singer-guitarist Scott McCloud, whose raspy vocals infrequently crescendo into a monstrous subhuman roar.
Girls Against Boys’ history goes back to Washington, D.C., in 1988. The original band was formed by McCloud and bassist Eli Janney, who were jamming with Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty. After only a few practices and one recording session, the original group disbanded and reformed two years later in New York City with their current line-up. Alexis Fleisig took the place of Canty, but it was the addition of Johnny Temple as a second bass player that made these guys stand out from the post-punk pack.
Throughout the 90s, Girls Against Boys defined their unique sound through numerous singles and three LPs. Their debut album, Tropic of Scorpio, was released on Adult Swim, and the now-classic House of GVSB bears the Touch and Go imprint, putting GVSB in the same family of acid punk legends the Butthole Surfers and Big Black. They were then picked up by Geffen as part of the indie rock explosion of smaller bands being given major label deals. They spent more than a year working on material for their Geffen debut, 1998’s excellent Freak*on*ica. But like a lot of bands from that short-lived era, the relationship with their new label fizzled fast, prompting a return to the indie world.
This content originally appeared in the alternative weekly The Prague Pill.
First posted: Friday, September 18th, 2009.