U.S. Girls, the project started up by Canadian-American Meghan Remy, is currently on their In A Poem Unlimited tour around Europe, named after their latest album. They visited Scotland on the last leg of their tour and played The Stereo in Glasgow. Accompanying Remy were Toronto-based band The Cosmic Range, which included her husband Max Turnbull AKA Slim Twig on guitar.
Situated in the centre of Glasgow, The Stereo is both a music venue and a vegan cafe. The upstairs cafe is pleasantly decorated, with wooden floors and tables, giving off a relaxing atmosphere. The downstairs music venue is spacious, with a bar, an elevated stage and great atmospheric lighting.
Supporting them was Swedish act ShitKid aka Åsa Söderqvist, whose eclectic music and raw performance complemented U.S. Girls’ own show.
U.S. Girls formed in 2007 by Meg Remy, releasing her first albums, Gravel Days and Introducing… in 2008. Since then, Remy has toured many times in Europe, Canada and The United States. Her latest album, In A Poem Unlimited, was released in February 2018. With the combination of dream-pop, experimental and vintage sounds and Remy’s beautiful voice, fans have called her a modern-day Kate Bush. Through her music, U.S. Girls makes meaningful social commentary focused on feminist and political themes.
I discovered them recently through their latest album and worked my way through their discography. I was spellbound by Remy’s voice, but equally, I was drawn to their old school avant-garde music and pop sounds. It is clear that the pop element is meant to reach a wider audience, as Remy herself has said, and I am all for spreading awareness and bringing attention to socio-political issues through the music medium.
The gig itself started very strongly with Velvet For Sale, with its dream-like melody and Remy’s versatile singing. It then proceeded onto Rage Of Plastics, with its jazz-like tune and heavy use of saxophone.
They then played M.A.H. or Mad As Hell, one of their most well-known songs. Its upbeatness disguising the serious topic of the piece: Remy’s disappointment and disillusion with the Obama administration. The performance was very well-received by the audience.
Continuing with the seamlessly transitioned Rosebud, another dreamy track with slight disco rhythms that enchanted the crowd but as with all nearly all Remy’s work the tune juxtaposed with the content. Her voice offering the escape for the mind to be let free and try new things. This and the doomed love song L-Over are from the excellent new 4AD released album In A Poem Unlimited.
The Island Song, from their 2011 album U.S. GIRLS On KRAAK, came up next. It was a lovely throwback to their previous work and a slight intermission from their newest material. Invoking feelings of nostalgia and melancholy, exacerbated by the lyrics about not wanting to let go of happiness and denial over being abandoned unexpectedly. Unexpected was also how this very track came to be: while Remy was in the studio, visiting her husband, Slim Twig, in Toronto as he was recording A Hound At The Hem, he proposed they record a song of hers spontaneously. This song is a milestone for U.S. Girls, as it signified a transition into her new style of creating music.
They continued with the psychedelic Navy & Cream, co-written with Tony Price, from their album Half Free, also released through the record label 4D. Her focus on women’s issues here is evident. From the same album, the bittersweet but catchy Window Shades followed, a song about a woman gathering the courage to tell her partner off for leaving her behind all the time. The tune has the power to make anyone nostalgic, even for a time they don’t remember.
Perhaps the strongest track of the album, Sororal Feelings came next. A slow, eerie song from the perspective of a woman in an unhappy marriage with a man who has previously had affairs with her three sisters. The lyrics “Sororal feelings / They used to come so naturally / And now I’m gonna hang myself / Hang myself from the family tree” haunted the room and created a tangible dissonance with the soothing lullaby.
Afterwards, I’ll Never Learn slowly started playing, with second vocalist Kassie Richardson and the keyboardist singing a duet with each other, before picking up the pace as Remy started singing again, accompanied by the saxophonist Andy Haas.
They ended on a very strong note with Time, which is also the last track on In A Poem Unlimited. Their performance was energetic and electrifying, compelling the crowd to dance along. It left the audience wanting more, however, despite the continual applause and the chanting of “one more tune”, the band did not play an encore.
U.S. Girls put on a fantastic show and the crowd thoroughly enjoyed their performance. Remy’s voice was mesmerising, the band’s energy was highly contagious and the choice of songs was excellent. It was a very successful conclusion to their European tour and I certainly hope to see them again soon.
Live Review & Photography by Federica La Marca of U.S. Girls at The Stereo in Glasgow on 19th May 2018