Dead to Me is the full-length debut disc by Irish trio Girls Names. Those partial to lo-fi indie/garage pop/rock will no doubt salivate once they get a whiff of this, but the band has enough going for it that those not into raw-sounding rock may also find a lot to like.
Stylistically, Girls Names evoke Beat Happening, Helium, locals Henry's Dress (RIP) and offspring Aisler's Set — spunky garage-y élan, melodies flavored by mid-Sixties radio pop and Seventies punk, basic but terse musicianship, clanging guitar (with frequent surf overtones), melancholy ambience, and enough echo to have been recorded down at the tube station at midnight. Guitarist/singer Cathal Cully sounds as if he has a head cold and his lover departed just last night, but he's determined to achieve catharsis. Except for bass drum thump, Neil Brogan's drums sound like they were recorded down the hallway, and the background vocals reflect the singer's angst. So what, if anything, sets this lot apart from two dozen other simpatico combos? For one thing, Girls Names doesn't confuse manic frenzy for urgency. Dead's songs have a palpable air of desperation born of playing because one must, in a section of town with gloomy job prospects and lousy public transportation. Their melodies are of the stick-in-the-head variety. Kicked off by the "Be My Baby" drum intro, "I Lose" has the streamlined, fervent, hard-strummed drive of the Velvet Underground and descendants Josef K and the Feelies. "Nothing More to Say" is a cross between "Boys Don't Cry"-era Cure and the early Ramones — a fine distillation of churlish fatalism. Dead is no classic, but it's gratifying. (Slumberland)