Two Nice Girls (and solo work)
Reviewed on this page:
Like A Version - Chloe Liked Olivia - Songs To Save Your Soul
- Brompton's Cocktail
Singer/songwriter Gretchen Phillips was part of the mid-80s Austin, Texas, indie scene, in rapid succession co-founding a performance
art group (Meat Joy), a lesbian rock band (Girls In The Nose) and a lesbian country-rock band (Two Nice Girls). The country-rock band is
the only one I've heard; they had a wicked sense of humor and good chops, and put out a couple of records on Rough Trade which are reasonably
easy to find and worth the effort. None of these bands stuck together very long, and the members of Two Nice Girls have drifted on to a variety
of things: in the late 90s one-time bassist Meg Hentges hooked up with producer Adam Schlesinger for a surprisingly loud, unsurprisingly
solid solo debut. Phillips is the leader of the Gretchen Phillips Experience, which has its own web site. This paragraph wasn't very coherent, sorry.
Meat Joy - Gretchen Phillips, Jamie Lee Hendrix, Melissa Cobb, John Boy Perkins and Tim Pierre Mateer.
Girls In The Nose - Gretchen Phillips, guitar, vocals; Pam Barger, drums; Kay Turner, vocals; Joanna Labow,
keyboards, vocals; Darcee Douglas, guitar.
Two Nice Girls - Gretchen Phillips, guitar, vocals; Kathy Korniloff, guitar, vocals; Laurie Freelove, bass, vocals; Barbara Cole, percussion, vocals.
Freelove and Cole left circa 1990, replaced by Meg Hentges and Pam Barger respectively. Group broke up, 1992.
Meat Joy (Meat Joy: 1986)
If I ever find a copy of this tape - I wrote to Phillips attempting to buy one, but she didn't write back - I'll review it here.
Togetherness (Phillips and Driver: 1989)
Two Nice Girls (1989)
I haven't found this either.
Contains at least one total classic, the singalong
"I Spent My Last $10.00 (on Birth Control & Beer)," by Phillips.
There's also an amalgam of songs by Lou Reed and Joan Armatrading, "Sweet Jane
And Affection," and Jane Siberry's "Follow Me." Most of the originals are by Phillips or Freelove;
Korniloff contributes "The Holland Song."
Like A Version (1990)
An EP of cover tunes, ranging from Sonic Youth ("Cotton Crown") to Donna Summer
and Bad Company ("I Feel (Like Makin') Love") to the Carpenters ("Top Of The World"). Despite the pleasant tongue-in-cheek
performances, the schtick is pretty limited. "Spent My Last $10.00" was recycled from the previous record, and it's head and shoulders
above the rest - however, the song is so good and the group's debut is so hard to find you should grab this if you see it.
Girls In The Nose (Girls In The Nose: 1990)
Phillips and Barger; they apparently rocked quite a bit harder than the Nice Girls. (DBW)
Chloe Liked Olivia (1991)
On this album, the band stretches out more, bringing in horns on
the wonderful rocker "Let's Go Bonding" (by Phillips), cello on the
spacey "Throw It All Away" (by bassist Meg Hentges), and even a hip
hop parody with a George Bush impersonator ("For The Inauguration"
by Phillips again). The Phillips tunes are consistently witty,
insightful, and fun ("The Queer Song" is a hilarious updating of
Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away," and "Princess Of Power" is an ode to
a cartoon character). Phillips has a strong clear voice, and she's
one of the few guitarists nowadays to make extensive use of her
wah-wah pedal, which is always worth points in my book.
Unfortunately, the other band members get in their own songs, and
they're just not that interesting: guitarist Kathy Korniloff
contributes two sincere but dull love songs ("Rational Heart"), and
Hentges throws in a strangely unemotional response to a rape,
"Noona's Revenge." Drummer Pam Barger's songs are exotic ("Only
Today") if rather incomprehensible. Carefully arranged and
recorded, this is enjoyable even when it's not at its best. The
band broke up shortly after this release. (DBW)
Origin Of The World (Girls In The Nose: 1992)
Barger doesn't appear on this record, but Phillips does; Kay Turner and M.J. Torrance appear to be the principal songwriters.
Tattoo Urge (Meg Hentges: 1992)
A 5-song EP, with Hentges on rhythm guitar and lead vocal, Phillips on lead guitar, Darcee Douglas on bass, and Joel Duhor on drums.
Production - by Hentges and engineer Ben Blank - is bare-bones, just basic quickly recorded rock and roll with nothing distinctive aside from some discordant leads from Phillips.At least one of these tunes was remade on Brompton's Cocktail, "This Kind Of Love" (the title doesn't refer to the later tune, though, just the poem that would inspire it).
At least one of these tunes was remade on Brompton's Cocktail, "This Kind Of Love" (the title doesn't refer to the later tune, though, just the poem that would inspire it).
Review coming soon. (DBW)
Welcome To My World (Gretchen Phillips: 1993)
Box (Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet: 1995)
Barger was the only non-saxophonist in this jazz combo. Review coming soon. (DBW)
Afterlaugh (Meg Hentges: 1995)
The band is Hentges and Lisa Wickware (guitars), Douglas and Judith Ferguson (bass or keyboards), and Duhon.
Produced by Hentges.
Review coming soon.
Do You Ever Wish For More (Gretchen Phillips Experience: 1997)
Musicians include Andy Loomis (bass, keys), Jo Walston (guitar, bass, keys), Thor (drums). (DBW)
Songs To Save Your Soul (Gretchen Phillips: 1998)
A six-song EP, so it's dispiriting to note that three of the songs are covers: Buck Owens's "Together Again"; Clifford Waldron's "Satan's
Jewel Crown" and Conway Twitty's "Hello Darlin'." I mean, one cover is cool, but if you're going to pull off a record that's 50% covers
you have to remake the songs drastically, and Phillips doesn't.
Two of the originals,
"Peace On Earth" and "Om Shanti," both with lyrics that veer from the profound to the mundane, aren't up to her usual standard either.
However, "I Can Hear The Angels Singing" is a beautiful, intelligently tender love song.
On most tracks Phillips plays guitar, former Girl In The Nose Darcee Douglas plays bass and Terri Lord drums,
more or less in the Nice Girls' alternative-country style. Produced by Phillips and Lord.
Brompton's Cocktail (Meg Hentges: 1999)
As a solo act Hentges is a pure rocker with no country-western influence; this disc, produced by Adam Schlesinger of Fountains Of Wayne,
resembles the Cars in its reliance on synth and catchy, uncomplicated songwriting,
but is much louder and heavier on power chords ("This Kind Of Love"). According to Alroy, that's how Fountains sounds too - though the Fountains have vocal harmonies and this records doesn't -
so I shouldn't be surprised. There is some variety: "Not A Minute Too Soon" is mellow funk
with wah-wah guitar strongly recalling Sly Stone's "Family Affair," and the closing "Happy Go Luckiness" is
a gentle number with lilting vocal harmonies and some unexpected sound effects. Hentges's voice is thin and characterless, but her lyrics
are anything but, simultaneously incisive and amusing ("Tattoo Urge," part goof on a modern fad, part meditation on love and permanence;
"God's Lake," a curiously structured rant about family problems occasionally interrupted by a power chord chorus).
Most of the tunes are co-written with bassist Jude O'Pym; Hentges handles guitar while Schlesinger plays drums and keyboards.
In 2001, Phillips contributed one song, "Eau De Lesbianism," to the Mr. Lady compilation Calling All Kings And Queens.
I have this but haven't listened to it yet: bad, bad Wilson. (DBW)
Seitan Is Real (Gretchen Phillips: 2002)
I spent my last $10.00 on bargain bin CDs.