A funny thing happened to me at work today. A girl that I have worked with in two different stores but have known as well as two co-workers can know one another in that time just learned that I have a girlfriend. She seemed surprised because I guess I had never mentioned much of my personal life to anyone. I’m not embarrassed; I’m just not that into talking about my personal life. Anyways it reminded me of when people I knew found out I was in a punk band and was the lead singer, aka screamer. It began because I lived with people who had bands and lived in a band house which had shows in the basement and a practice spot. One night I was drunk at a show and I noticed that my friends playing always got free beers at the bar. I said “I can do this” and so after some convincing the band was born. The same sort of thing was the catalyst for the New York indie pop outfit The Judith Lights. They were crowd people who dared one another to learn an instrument and start a band. Over three years of rehearsing and playing shows they recorded the album Avenue.
Avenue opens with “Hairpin” a hazy and lazy indie pop tune that takes cues from ’80s mall and synth-pop respectively. It’s a mix between Material Girl era Madonna and the later period of the Cure with just a little bit of Flock of Seagulls and mall-pop et al mixed in for good effect. So basically it’s on par with a lot of what has been coming out of the east coast indie scene for the last ten years or so. The next tune “I Don’t Know” is on par with this fashion of slow motion ‘80s era synth-pop that sounds so original it could have been unearthed from an original MTV video time capsule that was buried shortly after the channel originally aired.
This slow motion ‘80s affection continues on songs like “Cowboy Song” but it’s here the lyrics take hold. Vocalist Lora Grillo helps to make the song by painting the song with picture perfect and poetic vocals as she softly sings over the slow and bumpy synths “a walk with Melissa Jeanne / she knew just what it took to / push me hard on the schoolyard swing / hard enough for around the world” and later “I loved her like a father mother / the boy that she was then / made the rest pale in comparison.” Later she recalls lovers of new but in a different way on the more obtrusive synth powered “Old Poems and Lovers.”
From a standpoint of a grass roots band The Judith Lights have made a first record of Avenue that is worthy of praise for its tautly gorgeous melodies and compositions in the aim of ‘80s era synth pop (a genre to be fully truthful is one after my own heart) but also worthy of being liable of writing the same exact song over nine times on this record. Sadly the band has disbanded since the making of Avenue but its scattering of talent is sure to produce new stars in the future. I hope to see those in my lifetime.
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