Cheap Girls – Famous Graves


Rating: ★★★½ ·

Michigan’s Cheap Girls don’t have some labored back story or some certain angle they can promote.  Instead, the group, now on their sixth record, just offer up really clean guitar rock; there’s not schtick, no pretense, just good songs.  It sets the tone for listening to the entirety of Famous Graves, an album chocked-full of really good songs.

Famous Graves jumps at you right from the start with “Slow Nod.”  A screech of feedback exits your speaker, and the drums immediately pound in while the guitar rings in discord. You’ll hear the vocals of Ian Graham wail steadily, with the music seemingly swallowing his melody.  You need a guitar jam to start off your day? Best begin here. It’s one of the harder hitting moment on the record, aside from the one-two punch of “Pure Hate” and “Man in Question.”  These two tracks offer a noisy dosage of guitars and crashing drumming.  But, if you listen to the chorus of the former, you can hear the pop-centric approach the group has taken, surely endearing them to fans of all walks.  On the latter, Graham offers a bit of a pitch-change in his vocal delivery, and it’s this touch that makes listening to Cheap Girls more than just your average alternative rock affair; vocal distinction does indeed go a long way…at least in my ears.

Still, one of my favorite things about the release are the melodic moments that come far more frequently than one might expect.  My favorite tune, at the moment, “Knock Me Over,” establishes that emotion on its opening lines, using a muted guitar while Ian’s voice carefully makes its entrance into the track.  Sure, the song picks up a slight bit, but the band never shies away from using great harmonies.  Perhaps this style is not mastered any better inside Famous Graves than on the closer, “Turns.” I like the usage of strummed acoustic guitar to dominate the track; Graham’s vocal performance here is also one of his best on this record.  The ability of Cheap Girls to hold onto that melody while still being loud enough to be considered a rock band  is quite important in regards to your listening experience; it’s that perfect balance that allows you to come back to each song again and again without growing weary.

In an age where countless bands are regurgitating power chords and alternative rock stylings, it takes awhile to find something that makes a nod while still sounding unique in its own right.  Countless hours of listening to Famous Graves indicates that this record is just that; it combines melody and loud rock n’ roll effortlessly, proving that Cheap Girls know precisely what they’re doing. If you like such things, then you’d be a fool not to stop in and spend some time on this album.



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