Grass Widow released Milo Minute on their own label, HLR, last year, and when I got it, I didn’t listen to it right away. Something about their Past Time LP left me worn out, although I’ve since come to my senses. Past Time is excellent; an album of effortless, slightly mathematical hooks. It’s tempting to just emphasize the radical girl-ness of them, to place them on a riot grrrl continuum (they’re all-female, they have a record on Kill Rock Stars, they’ve played with the reunited Raincoats), but there’s more. The video for “11 of Diamonds” almost feels Maya Deren-ish, like avant-garde beach noir from the earliest days of counter culture America. On the flip side of Milo Minute, they cover Neo Boys and Wire, and they’ve cited ‘60s Brits the Move as an influence. And while their strength is often in their restraint (no wild distortion, no super fast parts or freak-outs), they have something of the pop rush and bounce of the Buzzcocks, and they hint at the briskness and poetics, the guitar jangle and bass rumble and adventurousness, of the Minutemen, but take it in another direction. They’re a model female punk trio, no question, but you can go deeper and wider with them. “Milo Minute”, the song, feels like their attempt at a jaunty two-minute pop burst—plenty of craft, without a ton of overthinking. In the video for “Milo Minute,” they go to Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo and play music for gorillas, and it’s here, with the band on one side of the plexiglass and a gorilla habitat on the other, that the song seems to grow. The band is so charming, they seem like they were going to the zoo to play anyway, and then said “Oh! You should bring your camera, we need to make a video!” I did have some questions, mainly about whether or not it was good for gorillas to hear amplified instruments and drums, and then also what their hearing frequency was like. Is it like a dog’s? Dogs don’t seem to notice bands. The gorillas seem fine with it, especially by the end. Grass Widow have a way of making the complicated very uncomplicated and natural. They make it look not only easy, but desirable.
–Matt Werts (HLR, no address listed)