Over the past couple of years, the Rum Bar label has gone from strength to strength. True champions of the US underground rock scene, they’ve continued to promote old friends Watts and Tom Baker, but they’ve also brought listeners a whole world of new and often retro sounds along the way.
When Rum Bar Records reissued the French Girls’ self-titled 2013 EP at the beginning of 2021, it instantly gave the band some well deserved exposure, such is the label’s enthusiasm for digital mailouts and keenness on spreading the word via social media channels. For those who missed French Girls the first time around, this timely reissue more than set out the band as an act to watch out for. That EP’s four songs worked a fierce and distorted approach that could rival many a raw, DIY garage punk band. Those with sharper ears may have detected occasional nods to old 60s girl groups, but in the main, the short release had most of its intents set on creating a gloriously raw noise. It was thrilling – exactly the kind of thing you’d expect from ex-members of Les Hell On Heels and Sympathy For The Record Industry signings The Peeps.
By crediting themselves as “garage pop from the desert”, French Girls instantly disarm the listener by suggesting there will be an obvious pop (or power pop) element to their sound. On this self-titled EP from 2021, any allusions to making obvious pop sounds are fleeting and most sugary melodies are quickly kicked to the kerb with a hefty amount of distortion. Although you will find an occasional nod to Phil Spector girl groups, such moments are delivered with a massive sneer. This EP is raw, attitude filled and sometimes ugly. From a garage punk perspective, it’s also brilliant.