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Smokes and joy rides

Girl Fry bring exhuberant punk with traces of world music

SoCal trio Girl Fry excels at fiery, energetic punk. Photo credit: Facebook

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Most of my friends have become relatively settled people, growing out of endless partying and incredibly long nights - I know I have. It's just a natural process of getting just the right amount of restlessness out of your system as you age into your late ‘20s. But, there were a few years there, right after I came out of seclusion to meet a bunch of new people at 16 years old, when I would spend long days and nights avoiding responsibilities in exchange for encountering a whole slew of new experiences. Cigarettes, hopelessly messy houses, disastrously cheap drinks, and riding around in cars.

It was that last experience that I most shared with one friend, who was nearing the end of high school and her most fervent period of partying and her most fertile period of musical curiosity. During those long car rides through the Five Mile Drive, or out to the middle of nowhere to get cheap smokes, that I was introduced to the majority of my knowledge about women-led punk bands, largely sourced from the ‘90s, or sometimes creeping into the ‘00s. Riot grrrl, electro-clash, pop-punk, grunge - these were all new to me at 16, and wildly eye-opening after years of being raised by the oldies. I felt cool by association, an outsider being brought into the inner circle by people who were more than happy to call me on my crap and show me new (to me) things.

When I was listening to Girl Fry, a trio based out of Southern California, all of these memories came flooding back. Their most recent LP is called When You Drink, I Drink. When You Sink, I Sink., which is just the kind of unwieldy title that you would've found on one of those ‘90s punk albums. The sentiment of the title comes from the album's centerpiece, "Villainous Boyfriends," which boasts a rigorously strummed ukulele as its hook, nodding to Girl Fry's penchant for incorporating some acoustic elements and world music into the proceedings. Mostly, though, Girl Fry succeeds at delivering some fiery, energetic punk, as on the discordant "Roadkill."

Girl Fry is made up of frontwoman Jessy Spino, bassist Alexandria Si, and drummer Alex Calderon, and they do well in not keeping Girl Fry a one-note outfit. When I Drink... has a fair amount of variety, so for every barreling number like "Roadkill," you get something like "The Fire Song" - by far the longest track on the album, at over five minutes, and the most menacing, with its deliberate pace, sounding almost like a long-lost Hole song. "Be Fine" is a sultry bit of bluster, evoking a scorched-earth desert with its throwback Latin tock vibe, while "Pots and Houses" dips into the waters of doo wop. "Poor Devils," with its accordion and waltz time, most effectively evokes their affection for bands like Gogol Bordello, while still retaining Girl Fry's personal style.

By far, the song that most strikingly takes me back to those days of riding around in cars with new friends, smoking way too many cigarettes, and getting confronted with music that was simultaneously out of my comfort zone and utterly intoxicating, is pop-punk gem "Push." In preparing to write about Girl Fry, I actually played "Push" for the very friend that drove me around over a decade ago, and she remarked that it sounded like something she would have listened to in high school. In my opinion, there's something very evocative in that statement: Girl Fry have the ability to make you feel nostalgic, even if it's your first time listening to them. Wielding that kind of power is no small feat.

GIRL FRY, w/ Ian Quiet, Friday, April 29, 7 p.m., Cover TBA, All Ages, Le Voyeur, 404 E. 4th Ave., Olympia, 360.943.5710

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