Chagrin – Ground Scores (Rad Girlfriend Records, 2020)

So, anyways, Josh at Rad Girlfriend passed me a bunch of stuff for review a couple of months back and I’ve been steadily chipping away at it. Seemingly I just got to this one. More fool me, I guess; although I didn’t intentionally do the reviews in any particular kind of order. Well, now here we are, I suppose.

Chagrin are from San Diego and feature members of Dan Padilla and Tiltwheel (who do still exist) and a bunch of other bands like Shallow Cuts and Madison Bloodbath that I’m half convinced no longer exist. Some pretty tight bands, there though. Seemingly pictures of this band don’t exist, although there are loads of pics of some band one of these guys used to be in like 15 years ago on the Facebook page. As some kind of seedy old bastard would doubtless say, “eeeeeh, you don’t need to look at mantlepiece to poke the fire, lad!”, so there we go.

The first listen through took place before I actually looked up any of that background info. At first I was getting these kind of mid-90s Sebadoh / Pavement kind of vibes (around Bubble and Scrape / Crooked Rain Crooked Rain respectively), but a bit more kinda “punked up”. Still very much with an indie rock bent. Shortly after this, I’m hearing these Lemonheads-esque moments of melancholy whimsy, too. I’m in what would have been heaven for me in 1994-5. And twenty-odd years, later, it’s still a pretty great place to be taken back to; and that’s without any kind of rose-tinted nostalgia.

This is not to say that this record or band is retro or vintage in any way. I feel like there is an almost timeless quality to that style of playing and writing songs. Obviously we don’t have Evan Dando’s ego from days of yore to contend with here! Vocally, I’m also at times (I feel like there are several people maybe taking vocal leads on different songs?) put in mind of that dude Ben Kweller that used to be in that band Radish, and then went on to achieve more success as a solo artist. The Mrs thinks that guy is great, but realistically he just pisses me off, because his lyrics are shit. Anyway, these lyrics don’t make me feel that way. Which I am eternally grateful for.

Anyway, I think this is pretty fucking great. And obviously you should listen to me, and all that caper. Have a listen yourself too:

You can get this on vinyl from Rad Girlfriend Records on “crazy mystery colour” which to me looks somewhere between a nebula and some of that hectic looking tie-dye shit Grateful Dead types seem to rock on all occasions. Shit looks tight, brah.

Tony of Nurgle is a true child of the North, recently returned to Yorkshire and residing in Leeds (after close to a decade living in exile in Croydon and South East London). He used to co-run a specialist record store in Manchester (Roadkill Records), and also several years as a promoter, and put on shows for the likes of Leatherface, the Loved Ones, Lucero, Minus The Bear, These Arms Are Snakes, Spy vs Spy, Latterman etc. He also spent several years DJing at shady rock clubs in Manchester, and started the infamous Thursday night "punk room" at Jilly's Rockworld. Also responsible for Middle Finger Response, and collaborated with a couple of friends on a monthly night called Refuse to Lose, which will still occasionally reunite the original DJ line-up - next event at Retro in Manchester on 07/09/2019. Apart from that, it's all bitterness and a jaundiced view of human nature, occasionally skateboarding, always exhausted, often reading books with maps in the front.

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