Cheap Girls - Giant Orange (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Cheap Girls

Giant Orange (2012)

Rise Records

With just one listen to Giant Orange, Cheap Girls' Rise Records debut, and unquestionably the best thing they've done to date, it becomes clear just how far the group has come since their debut, Find Me a Drink Home, four years ago. While that album displayed a style heavily indebted to '80s college rock, and its follow up My Roaring 20's featured a more '90s radio rock/Gin Blossom-influenced sound, Giant Orange features their most modern sounding production to date, courtesy of Against Me!'s Tom Gabel, which allows the songs to be appreciated on their own merits, rather than looked at as attempts to revive the sounds of past eras.

Opener "Gone All Summer," which the group has been playing live for well over a year, kicks things off with some roaring guitars that J. Mascis himself would be proud of, as well as the most confident vocals we've heard from bassist/vocalist Ian Graham to date. The song's chugging palm muted verses make it perhaps the most aggressive Cheap Girls song we've heard to date, as well.

The next few tracks feature the same mixture of loud guitars and memorable vocal hooks we've come to expect from the band, but more refined and with sharpened songwriting skills. Backing vocals also play a bigger role in the band's sound than ever before, notably on "Communication Blues" and "Manhattan On Mute." "Mercy Go Round" could almost be described as taking a dual vocal approach. This adds an interesting new dimension to Cheap Girls' sound that I look forward to hearing more of in the future.

The first track from Giant Orange that the band previewed, via a demo on YouTube a few months back was the catchy, midtempo "Cored To Empty." The version that ended up making the album is actually quite different. Nearly entirely acoustic, save for an Adam Aymor guitar solo, the track stands out from the rest, giving listeners a break from the onslaught of distorted guitars found elsewhere on the album, and can be described as the "Her and Cigarettes" of Giant Orange. This coming only a few tracks before "If You Can't Swim," one of the fastest songs the group has ever written, proves Giant Orange to be Cheap Girls' most diverse record yet.

Cheap Girls have improved with every release and Giant Orange is no exception. This album is the result of near constant touring, and finds the group improving as musicians as well as songwriters. Every song on Giant Orange is a winner, and will no doubt please fans as well as win new ones. Music is not, and should not be, a competition, but of all their contemporaries dropping albums this week, the Menzingers, the Sidekicks, etc… Cheap Girls win.