Sad Girlz Club’s boppy tunes for cloudy feels
If you’ve battled depression, you’re a member of the “Sad Girlz Club.” The phrase, now the name of a Sacramento pop-punk band, was singer Shelby Murray’s inside joke for broken days, similar to “pity party.”
The four band members bring relentlessly uplifting songs to their first album, Hard Feelings, available February 22 on Bomb Pop Records. The album’s nine tracks are mostly breathless, two-to-three minute relay races chronicling the wreckage of an abusive relationship and the hills of bipolar depression.
And they bop.
“I’m so afraid, I can’t feel anything … my hands are shaking, these people all around make this isolation worse,” co-vocalist and guitarist Travis Dunbar sings in “Lonely Nights,” a song about debilitating anxiety, and “how much it’s kind of alienated me from a lot of close friends of mine over time.”
Dunbar’s cracking rasp will remind you of Iron Chic’s Jason Lubrano. Party-all-night riffs are darkened by guitarist Lys Mayo’s foggy, black-metal styled tone. Drummer Eric Le Febre attacks with high-blood pressure percussion, and Murray harmonizes with Dunbar to an eerie chorus. In other songs, she leads, filling the room like her inspirations: Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston and Paramore’s Hayley Williams.
“Travis and I, we are the chicken nuggets. We will bring the skeleton of a song to a writing practice,” Murray says. “And Eric and Lys are like the dipping sauces. They’ll add the best flavors to our song.”
Murray and Dunbar, jam buddies for the last 10 years who met in high school, formed Sad Girlz Club last June. They quickly recruited La Febre, who just broke up with his band Hollywood Hotel in San Francisco. After recording a three-song EP with Earth Tone Studios’ Patrick Hills (who also produced Hard Feelings), the three gently bullied Hills’ girlfriend Mayo—a local music vet who’d drummed for Little Tents, Dead Dads, Kepi the Band and others—into playing guitar. They played their first show at the old Café Colonial on August 9, and opened for The Ataris the same month at Blue Lamp.
But their highlight gig was in November, bringing down North Pole House, the Davis home of Melissa Schiller, who hosts the local music radio show Sleepy Wakey. Two hundred misfits packed into the peculiarly laid-out house, congesting hallways, the kitchen and the back patio. Onlookers peered through windows. Crowd surfers kicked the ceiling.
“It was a nightmare in the best way,” Mayo says.
With Hard Feelings, Sad Girlz Club rocks to the doldrums, a reminder that you can always spin misery with a sunny sonic palate. A second album is already in the works.
“It’s important that sadness isn’t a negative thing,” Mayo says. “We have songs that are kind of happy sounding, and you listen to the lyrics, and its like, ‘It’s alright to be sad. It can still be a positive, constructive thing.'”