Album releases from Evening Shadows and The Girls
By Brian Tucker
Emerging from the pandemic it’s fitting that two recent punk rock releases from Evening Shadows and The Girls sonically reflect the frustration of the last year. Both albums are loud and fun – one bringing together members of different bands for a new one (Evening Shadows) and the other a young, consistent band (The Girls) changing members and expanding an already solid, polished sound. What the albums also share, in small doses, is the lasting influence of the Ramones.
Evening Shadows’ self-titled debut (Eccentric Pop Records) is brash and melodic, ragged and catchy, deftly melding the aesthetic of a raw garage band sound and power chords with uplifting energy across ten songs. The Girls’ Armed to the Teeth opens with their familiar blast of guitar and drums but its songs quickly switch gears, slowing things down. Slower songs graduate from the band’s previous albums that were catchy, all-out assaults. Here they’ve emboldened material (concise, memorable songs around two minutes in length) with more groove and nuance – hints of swagger in the vein of Faster Pussycat or The Mooney Suzuki, even adding synth to great effect on “Circles.”
These albums were made during the pandemic and Evening Shadows’ Matt Hearn says he remembers wearing masks in the studio recording with Ian Millard at Dogwood Lane Studios. The Girls’ JP Verardi recalled their album was the most time they spent writing and once the band was ready they recorded in Atlanta at RCRD Studios with Dan Dixon with the new band members.
“Freeman Reid, our new rhythm guitar player was our roadie and practiced with us for two years. Once he learned the songs he started playing with us,” Verardi said. “Kaitlyn McClaurin was already in the band and when our bass player quit she picked up the bass and learned all the songs in two months.”
These elements coalesced into a step forward for The Girls, moving beyond a balls-to-the-wall aggressive sound to something bridging full-tilt energy with bouncing, playful songs like “Schools for Fools” and “Too Much Time” or the infectious “Circles” with its sing-along vibe and short but blazing guitar solo.
Evening Shadows features members of bands with ties to the area – ASG (drummer Scott Key), Toke (guitarist Jason ‘Bronco’ Pierce), Valient Thorr (bassist Tyler Wolf), Strike Anywhere (guitarist Matt Smith) and White Tiger and the Bed of Roses (vocalist Matt Hearn). Their album combines driving energy via soaring, blazing riffs and Matt Hearn’s acid tongued singing. Hearn’s vocals have always been caustic and cool and here he plays around, adding warmth on “Paradise” and “Handsome Criminal” along with a taste of doo wop here and there to round out lyrics.
The songs are funnily frank – see “Rules” and “The Spins,” as well as introspective – see “Spaces in Between” and “Karma Snake.” On “Karma Snake” Hearn sings through experience – “All the things I’ve learned, They’re gonna come right back to me/All the bridges I’ve burned, Are gonna come right back to me.”
Evening Shadows could have been something different given everyone’s backgrounds, perhaps a hard-edged heavy rock album. Instead it’s rollicking with a sonic quality that ultimately feels youthful. They’ve delivered a fresh, fun opening salvo for the band while The Girls have smartly decided to not make a lateral move into more of the same. Instead, they’re exploring what that sound can be.