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Pop Music | Bonus Track

They Made Their Peace--and an Album Too

June 16, 2002|Kevin Bronson

Just released: "Homesick and Happy to Be Here," a debut album nearly a decade in the making, by L.A.'s Aberdeen. Available through

Aberdeen? Begun in 1992 by Palm Desert High classmates John Girgus and Beth Arzy--"we were high school musical sweethearts," Girgus says--the group cemented a tiny place in pop lore by releasing two singles, in 1993 and '94, on England's Sarah Records. Now enjoying cult status, Sarah was a mom-and-pop label that favored jangly, gentle Britpop. As planned at its outset, the label folded after 100 releases.

Sweethearts sour: "Beth and I had a volatile relationship," says Girgus, 27, a marketing representative for Sony Music. "Onstage fights, arguments.... We had a nasty breakup." For six years, their works in progress languished.

Peace signs: After a few chance meetings at concerts, "one day fighting didn't happen," Girgus says. "We found out we could be civil." With the help of some musician friends, notably ex-Fonda guitarist David Newton, "Homesick" took shape. The album is a charming combination of strummy bedroom pop, fuzzy and smoldering guitars, and girl-boy vocals highlighted by Arzy's plaintive entreaties.

This from Britain: "Yes, I like it," says Matt Haynes, the Sarah Records co-founder who now runs Shinkansen Recordings in London. "Obviously it's not a million miles away from the singles Aberdeen recorded for Sarah."

A new wrinkle: Shortly after Aberdeen was done recording, Arzy moved to London to become the vocalist for Trembling Blue Stars--the current project of Bob Wratten, who fronted Sarah Records' best-known band, the Field Mice. Trembling Blue Stars records for Shinkansen, so it's no wonder that Haynes, as endeared as he is to Aberdeen's music, is puzzled over "to what extent [Aberdeen] actually exists."

To be or not to be: "I'd say yes, it exists," Girgus says. "We made a record."


Kevin Bronson

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