Strawberry Girls
Italian Ghosts (Re-Recorded)


4.0
excellent

Review

by eventheminions USER (7 Reviews)
February 21st, 2017 | 43 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Old songs injected with new life in what turns out to be a bone-fide third studio album

Remasters abound. Every year there’s a rake of classic repackagings, anniversary editions and label retrospectives that get their mixed tweaked or cleaned up. These slight adjustments are usually a welcome improvement, but they hardly get the blood going. A re-recording, on the other hand, is a far more interesting prospect. Unsatisfied with the production job on their (excellent) 2011 EP, Strawberry Girls decided to record its six tracks from scratch with new arrangements and sprinkle in four new ones to extend the collection to album length. The result is so substantial that I wouldn’t hesitate to call it the third Strawberry Girls LP proper. And it’s phenomenal.

“Black Night, Golden Circus” asserts itself within seconds, benefiting massively from the beefy production of 2015’s American Graffiti. It’s perhaps changed least in structure from its old counterpart, but there was nothing to fix in the first place. Precision engineered grooves needle at the motor cortex forcefully enough that’d I’d recommend this song as an experimental treatment for paraplegia. Another reason to highlight “Black Night” is that it’s the perfect Strawberry Girls archetype. If you’re not swept up in the frantic interplay of Garren, Rosett and Jennings by the time the “Only in Dreams”-style breather arrives, turn back now.

In case you hadn’t got the memo, the band are instrumental. Well, they lack a dedicated singer anyway. Since their first full-length album, French Ghetto (noticed a pattern yet"), they’ve relied upon the vocal talents of a number of hired guns for those occasional moments Zachary Garren’s guitar steps away from the mic. Longtime collaborators Sara Glass, Kathleen Delano and Joey Lancaster do an admirable job layering soulful verses and buttery oohs seamlessly into the mix. I’m less enamoured of Nic Newsham’s contribution to “Thank God”. His nasal intonation clashes unpleasantly with the song’s RnB hook, and the lyrics – sincere or not – just come across a bit lame (“Having conversations with God / Cause I give what I cannot receive; love”).

One Irish band that appear to be influenced by Strawberry Girls, if only by zeitgeist-y osmosis, is All Tvvins. While guitarist Lar Kaye knew his way around a earworm guitar line back in his Adebisi Shank days, IIVV (which I ranked the #17 album of 2016) sits in that same sliver of the Venn diagram between math weirdness and pop bombast that Italian Ghosts does. It’s a bit of musical real estate I wish would expand, since it’s heavy and creative enough to take seriously but still palatable enough to pull in the uninitiated.

What’s clear after listening to Italian Ghosts (version 2.0) is that these songs didn’t get a fair shake the first time out. Far from an admission of creative bankruptcy, the subtle but smart updates here show just how far Strawberry Girls have come in six short years. With their fresh coats of paint, old songs bleed seamlessly into new. No matter how much you clean a reel of tape, no remaster is going to accomplish that.



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user ratings (57)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Asdfp277
February 21st 2017


16125 Comments


hold up, i'll ask the mods to move it.....................

eventheminions
February 21st 2017


37 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks, I selected the right album from the drop-down. Weird...

Asdfp277
February 21st 2017


16125 Comments


it happens at times

smaugman
February 21st 2017


4480 Comments


ive never really given strawberry girls' other records a listen even though i like american graffiti. are they worth it?

brainmelter
February 21st 2017


4727 Comments


les fix it

Digging: Outre - Ghost Chants

eventheminions
February 21st 2017


37 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

French Ghetto should be right up your street. It's just as good as American Graffiti.

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
February 21st 2017


15833 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

this rocks, please no talk of this being a third album though. that's what CHON does and it's annoying.

Dewinged
February 21st 2017


6993 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review Don, pos'd. For me it was the first time listening to these guys and I fucking loved it.

Digging: Motorpsycho - The Tower

Rigma
February 21st 2017


552 Comments


Haven't listened to either versions, should I start with remaster or original?

Digging: Frog Eyes - Tears of the Valedictorian

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
February 22nd 2017


15833 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

start with original cuz it's worse than this.

eventheminions
February 22nd 2017


37 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

-Calc, you really think this is worse? Strongly disagree there, a marked improvement in both production and arrangement to my ears.



-Rigma, I'd start with this one - listen to the EP out of curiosity if you really dig it.



-Dewinged, check out American Graffiti. My AOTY 2015.

Dewinged
February 22nd 2017


6993 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Will do mang.

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
February 22nd 2017


15833 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

you think the original sounds better than this here? it's been awhile but I remember thinking it not sounding very good. I'll try again someday

eventheminions
February 22nd 2017


37 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ohhh, misunderstood you. What I thought you were saying in your comment was that the EP sounds better. We're on the same page though - the 2017 version is better.

Presence
February 22nd 2017


83 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Shadow of the Moon is fucking goat. I just need to be able to tell which female box is which, but goddamn that closer gives me chills all the time.

Digging: UnoTheActivist - Live.Shyne.Die

Storm In A Teacup
February 23rd 2017


22378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is awesome

Storm In A Teacup
February 23rd 2017


22378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Little House in the Big Woods is a song of the decade contender

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
February 23rd 2017


15833 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

just realized you didn't mention the george micheal tribute and it upsets me. but i didn't know lar kaye decided to make radio pop that's interesting.

XingKing
February 23rd 2017


12548 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Shadow of the Moon is godly.

eventheminions
February 23rd 2017


37 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed, Shadow of the Moon and Little House are real standouts.



The Careless Whisper tribute makes me smile every time; although I didn't mention it because it's a bit of a spoiler, is it not? I know I'd prefer to have it come out of the blue if I was listening for the first time anyway.



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