Review and Photography by John Bentley

Goat Girl are a young all-female band from South London who have real attitude and write great songs. Their debut album, released last April, contains 19 short (most under 3 minutes), diverse and punchy songs and has received great reviews and radio play. The Brudenell is sold-out tonight for the Leeds stop on the band’s extensive tour. Goat Girl are really working hard at gigging: earlier this year I saw them in Montreal during their tour of North America supporting Parquet Courts. They were very well received by the Canadian audience and are making new friends wherever they play.

Goat Girl at Leeds Brudenell Social Club

Support artist, The Rebel, is completely new to me and a refreshing blast of supreme weirdness. The Rebel is Ben Wallers, who was a member of Country Teasers, an ‘art punk’ band who made it their mission to abuse not only country but many other genres of music, using scathing lyrics and repetitive sound. Waller performs an unpredictable solo set, using discordant singing, electronics and guitar. He is backed by drummer Sophie for much of the set. Many of the songs are from his 2008 album ‘Northern Rocks Bear Weird Vegetable’, a concept album about a dystopian future where, for example, starlets replace scientists as consumerdom’s inventors (‘Scarlett Johansen Conceiving the Design’). If that sounds too serious, the set is actually really absorbing and fun, as you take in the unhinged lyrics and rhythmic complexity. There is also an interesting distorted electronic excursion into ‘The Mysteries of Love’ (by Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch and originally sung by Julee Cruise).  The Rebel is a reference to the 1961 Tony Hancock film of the same name.

Rebel at Leeds Brudenell Social Club

The four-piece Goat Girl have now added a violinist and keyboard player to their touring line-up to fill-out the sound, but they still sound pretty raw and ragged. They kick-off with ‘Burn the Stake’, with singer Lottie Clottie Cream singing some pretty angry and pungent lyrics, but in a laid-back kind of way (“Build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put the Tories on the Top / Put the DUP in the middle and we’ll burn the fucking lot”). Quite a lot of things come in for attack in their songs, including a guy on a train filming girls (‘Creep’), pollution (‘Viper Fish’) and their views on Brexit Britain -‘How can a whole country be so fucking thick’ (‘Scum’). Unfortunately it’s not that easy to hear the words buried in the mix, but they’re there. Her distinctive voice seems like a combination of Courtney Love and Elastica’s Justin Frischmann.

Goat Girl, Leeds Brudenell Social Club

Goat Girl, Leeds Brudenell Social Club

All sorts of band comparisons have been made including The Slits, Pixies and The Libertines, but the Goat Girl have their own distinctive sound and take on things. There are quite a lot of styles and influences in the music: Cracker Drool and Slowly Reclines feature country-ish guitar playing from guitarist LED; ‘The Man with No Heart or Brain’ is a pretty weird bit of experimentation with some jagged guitar and time changes; by contrast ‘Throw Me a Bone’ is one of their most lush and melodic pieces; and they can get heavy, as in ‘Crow Cries’, featuring Naima Jelly’s pounding bass.

Goat Girl at Leeds Brudenell Social Club

Throughout, Rosy Bones’s energetic, clattering drumming plays a prominent role in propelling the band’s sound. They also produce some nice harmonies, as on ‘Lay Down’ and ‘I Don’t Care (Part 2)’. The band also have a sense of humour, for example, casting themselves in a Beatles role running away from hoards of screaming male fans in their video for ‘The Man’.

Goat Girl, Leeds Brudenell Social Club

After what seems a short set (17 songs in 50 minutes) the show ends and there is no encore. However, quality is more important than quantity and better to end with the audience wanting more. They finish with the full-on ‘Country Sleaze’, an album highlight, with its heavy echoey guitar riff, a song that has drawn Pixies comparison: indeed you could imaging Joey Santiago playing that guitar part and Black Francis hollering the words.

Goat Girl, Leeds Brudenell Social Club

Setlist: Burn the Stake; Creep; Viper Fish; Cracker Drool; Slowly Reclines; The Man with No Heart or Brain; Throw Me a Bone; The Man; Lay Down; I Don’t Care (Part 1);  I Don’t Care (Part 2); Scum; Scream; Crow Cries; Mighty Despair; Tomorrow (Paul Williams cover from Bugsy Malone); Country Sleaze.

Goat Girl, Leeds Brudenell Social Club

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