U.S. Girls: GEM

us girls, gemU.S. Girls : GEM
Meghan Remy is back with her misleadingly-titled one-woman project, U.S. Girls. Her latest album, GEM, is a gritty take on ‘50s and ‘60s pop that includes a couple of covers. Using a drum machine, an electric piano, a guitar, and some lo-fi recording equipment, Remy made this album with a little help from Canadian musician Slim Twig (with whom she has collaborated in the past.) The lo-fi DIY recording techniques result in an interesting combination of classic pop.

Because the tracks are so gritty and the vocals sound so far away, it’s hard to make out what Remy is saying on every song. “Work From Home” seems to be about deciding to be your own boss with lines like “Don’t get out of that bed” and “work from home instead.” I feel like I’ve come up with those lines in the past while I considered whether I wanted to work in a cold cubicle or in my warm bed using a super-slow company laptop. “Jack” is a cover of Brock Robinson’s 1991 song from the perspective of Jack the Ripper. While the idea of a woman being Jack the Ripper is an interesting take on the song, it’s hard to explore it because it’s hard to make out all of the lyrics (I had to look up Danava’s cover of the same song to fully appreciate the words.) The nasally, whiney vocals on the chorus of “Rosemary” got to be a bit much, I dreaded each time she’s repeat the title (which happened often.)

First, there’s the good: there’s swagger to “Slim Baby” and “Jack;” Remy’s vocals work well on these tracks and seem like she’s trying to channel Karen O or Joan Jett. “Down in the Boondocks,” a cover of the Billy Joe Royal classic, is one of the best songs on the album, maybe it’s because little changed from the original or it was easier to tell what Remy was singing. Then we get to the not-so good: “Curves” gets too experimental, it’s brief samples of people speaking repeated over some whooshing overhead airplane sounds. “Another Color” starts with over two minutes of grating sounds before turning into a watery ‘60s-esque tune. “He Who” has one piano hook with only slight variations repeated for nearly two minutes over beats from a drum machine.

I like the direction Remy is going in with U.S. Girls, but the execution leaves something to be desired. She has some interesting ideas and takes on the material, but I would love to be able to understand what she’s saying and for her to use that swagger she has on “Jack” and “Slim Baby” on more tracks.
Rating: 6.9/10
MP3: U.S. Girls “Slim Baby”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! vinyl