Chinese Girls
Pop Life/Of [2xLP; Drawing Room]

One of the base joys of music is finding that local or regional band that scratches an itch you never knew you had. Sometimes you find it outside of your boundaries by happenstance, stumbling onto an artist working in a medium you admire but their own hometown crowds could be happy to ignore. It’s the excitement in which Chinese Girls find their albums Pop Life and Of re-released more than a decade after their Little Rock debut. But when you hear the product of both albums, it’s hard not to feel the excitement of Drawing Room’s honchos infecting the music of Chinese Girls. When you place it in the early aughts and recall what was popular both in the mainstream and underground, it’s no surprise the odd rock pop cannonball of Pop Life failed to make a dent in our conservative culture. It’s buried in neo-psychedelia and globetrotting noise. It’s raucous and rowdy at a time in our history where we fell into the fog of somber seriousness. Of follows the trajectory of pop music’s back-to-the-futurism as it occurred in 2003, but rather than climb the flagpoll of 70’s electro-disco and 80’s soul-pop, it delves into those juicy nuggets of abandoned college rock for the Gen X crowd. Borrowing from New Order, Galaxie 500, and The Jesus and Mary Chain, Of is gritty and hungry. It speaks to the precedent of the Smell sound that birthed a teeny movement all its own just a few years later. Of represents a band that truly found solace in the past without living in it. All of this happening from the will of two men living in Arkansas. There’s no question had Chinese Girls held out for a few more years, they’d have been the toast of the blogosphere. But that came with its own set of issues and I’d hate to find an inventive and self-contained band swallowed by uncouth critical acclaim or their big-small city environs.

Links: Drawing Room


Cerberus seeks to document the spate of home recorders and backyard labels pressing limited-run LPs, 7-inches, cassettes, and objet d’art with unique packaging and unknown sound. We love everything about the overlooked or unappreciated. If you feel you fit such a category, email us here.

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