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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Girls Against Boys at Jabberjaw

March 01, 1994|LORRAINE ALI

Girls Against Boys' sound is based in the dissonance of Sonic Youth and in the sharp, angular clamor of the Fall, but the New York band expands its trance-like music into fresh territory. The biggest risk the clean-cut quartet faced at Jabberjaw on Sunday was sounding too lethargic and droning, but thanks to an accessible marching beat, the sleepy songs came alive, and the tightly packed crowd swayed contentedly.

Singer-guitarist Scott McCloud delivered lyrics in spurts, like the Fall's Mark E. Smith, but instead of blurting them flatly he sang in drawling, almost sexy groans. He remained fairly stationery as keyboardist and occasional second bass-man Eli Janney bobbed his head furiously and bounced off the earthquake-damaged wall. Both Janney and McCloud conjured weird, synthesizer-like noises with their voices, and an eerie electric buzz, like the sound of a blown amp, backed the entire set.

Girls Against Boys isn't breaking any musical boundaries, but with its ability to balance obscure and accessible elements, the band has what it needs to keep its underground audience for as long as it wants to.

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