Girls was an American indie rock band that formed in San Francisco, California in 2007. The band comprised two key members: Christopher Owens, songwriter and lead singer, and Chet "JR" White, who played bass and produced. The band's sound was heavily inspired by the music of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, with their sound being described as lo-fi, surf rock, rock and roll, psychedelic rock, pop rock, country rock and garage rock.
Girls' debut album, Album, was released in 2009 to critical acclaim. Their second studio album, 2011's Father, Son, Holy Ghost, was also released to critical acclaim. On July 2, 2012, Owens announced that he was leaving the band and would continue to record as a solo artist.
Formation and Album (2007-09):
Owens was born into the fundamentalist cult Children of God, but absconded at 16 from their community in Slovenia to Amarillo, Texas. It took him years of exploring common technology, hardcore punk and nihilism, among other things, to cope in mainstream society. In an interview with Exclaim! magazine, Owens related much of how being part of the Children of God cult informed his childhood and his music. While there, he was not allowed to listen to music from outside the group, but was allowed to watch movies from which he absorbed music like Queen and Guns N' Roses. In Amarillo, Owens was taken in by Stanley Marsh 3, where he was able to foster his creativity. When Owens turned 25, he moved to California. While in California, Owens became a member of Holy Shit with Ariel Pink and Matt Fishbeck. Owens then met Chet "JR" White, a Bay Area native who was raised in Santa Cruz, California. White began recording bands in his parents' garage. Upon meeting, the two developed a strong bond and interest in similar music, as well as a shared background in punk/hardcore music. Shortly thereafter Owens and White started recording what was to later be their debut album, titled Album.
Album received much acclaim when it was released. Pitchfork Media rated the single "Hellhole Ratrace" at 383 of the top 500 songs of the 2000s. The same website gave the album a grade of 9.1/10 and was rated the 10th best album of 2009. In August 2009, Girls first appeared on the cover of the publication The FADER, in its 63rd issue.
Father, Son, Holy Ghost (2010-2011):
In 2010, Girls released the EP Broken Dreams Club, an EP Owens described as "a taste of things to come." On July 20, 2011, they released "Vomit" from their upcoming album as a free download. This was followed by a video of the same song in August. "Honey Bunny" was the second cut off the record. The band released their second full length album Father, Son, Holy Ghost on September 9, 2011 in UK/Europe and on September 13 in the USA. On November 7, 2011, Girls announced a standalone single, "Lawrence," released on a heart-shaped vinyl on November 28, 2011. The song was written as a gift to Felt lead singer Lawrence Hayward.
Like with Album, Father, Son, Holy Ghost received much acclaim. "Vomit" and "Honey Bunny", the first and second single from the album, received "Best New Music" designations from Pitchfork. The same website gave the album a grade of 9.3 and was ranked number five on their Top 50 Albums of 2011 list.Billboard Magazine said "with "Father, Son, Holy Ghost," the band has vaulted the equivalent of three albums ahead, taking the conciseness of the EP and confounding expectations." Spin Magazine gave the album a 9/10 rating, saying "with Father, Son, Holy Ghost's exquisite, beyond-indie melodies, arrangements, and musicianship (the playful "Magic," the elegant "Just a Song," the fiery "Die"), (Christopher Owens) and bassist-producer JR White flirt with perfection."
Father, Son, Holy Ghost brought even more exposure to the band. The album peaked at #37 on the Billboard 200. On the tour in support of the album, the band performed at the St Jerome's Laneway Festival and the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. In addition, the band performed songs from the album on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Conan.
On July 1, 2012, Christopher Owens announced via his Twitter feed that he was leaving the band though he will continue to record music on his own. Owens cited the band's constantly shifting lineup as the reason for his departure, saying in an interview with Pitchfork Media: "We were replacing members for every other tour; I didn't feel like I had other people who were maturing alongside me. I counted out the amount of people that were in the band over the years. It was 21--a giant amount of people. That's feeling disappointed 21 times over." The breaking point for Owens came when guitarist John Anderson, one of Owens' closest friends, left the band. Owens released his debut solo album Lysandre on January 15, 2013.
Girls was heavily influenced by the music of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, with their sound being described as lo-fi, surf rock, rock and roll, psychedelic rock, pop rock, country rock and garage rock. For the band's first album Album, critics cited The Beach Boys, Elvis Costello, Buddy Holly, Spiritualized, Felt and Ariel Pink as influences. Owens' vocal style has also been compared to that of Brett Anderson, lead singer with English Britpop band Suede. The band's second album, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, kept most of the surf rock sound of the first album, but also saw their sound expand into metal and gospel music.