Coachella, beyond the main stage: The sunny, Google-defying psych-pop of Girls
COACHELLA COUNTDOWN: In the days leading up to the three-day Indio fest that begins April 16, Pop & Hiss gives you the reasons to arrive before the headliners.
From: San Francisco
Reason to care: Though maybe tough to find with a search engine, Girls was a blogosphere favorite last year on the strength of its debut full-length, the just as generically named "Album." A uniquely San Francisco-sounding batch of sunnily unpredictable guitar pop that sounds only moments removed from inclement weather, "Album" showcased the strength of lead singer and songwriter Christopher Owens (lower right, above), whose rich and occasionally nasal voice at times resembles that of Elvis Costello on a heartsick summer vacation.
Listen: "Lust for Life" from "Album" sounds absolutely nothing like Iggy Pop, but what it does sound like is a little over two minutes of pure jangle-pop bliss. Full of young, romantic frustration mixed with blind optimism served over a feathery chorus of "ba ba bas," Owens sounds like just about anybody who's ever been sure they're only one or two life changes away from perfection. Then a woozy harmonica comes in at the song's close and makes everything just that.
Fun Fact: Though now a four-piece, the vaguely cultish,'60s-informed look of the above photo comes from a bit of personal experience -- Owens was raised in a Christian cult called Children of God. As a result, he didn't start listening to music until he was 16.
Next: After Coachella, the band continues its festive ways with a stop at the Pacific Northwest's Sasquatch! Music Festival in May and All Tomorrow's Parties in Monticello, N.Y., in September.
-- Chris Barton
Photo: Chet "JR" White, lower left, and Christopher Owens of Girls. Credit: Sandy Kim