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'France 98'
(Any Other City Records)

Sam Shepherd

sam shepherd

Girl Band – France 98

With nary a vagina between them it's fair to say that as a band name, Girl Band is a bit misleading and anyone expecting Girls Aloud or Shangri-Las pop tunes is likely to be disappointed.

Not that there's anything wrong with an occasional dollop of pop goodness of course, but this particular Girl Band is not going to deliver close harmonies in beehive haircuts (as far as we can tell). Nope, this Dublin 4-piece seems more intent in exploring the blueprint laid out in the late 80s and early 90s by Sonic Youth and Mudhoney.

'France 98' then is an EP that will bear no surprises for anyone well versed in that particular period of musical history, but that's not to say that Girl Band are simply retreading old ground. This is a band that has taken those influences and run with them.

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Opening up with 'You're A Dog', it's clear that the band revel in making a frantic noise that jams 60s Garage Rock up against Hardcore fury and Grunge apathy. It's a screaming bloody mess, but in amongst the squall, it's possible to pick out elements of The Kinks ('You Really Got Me'), Mark Arm's howl, Fugazi's 'Guilford Fall' and Sonic Youth's all out cacophony. Yet somehow, despite all these markers it's idiosyncratic enough to not sound like an all-too-worthy homage. There's real intent and purpose to Girl Band, and it is obvious right from the off.

'Busy At Maths' once again possesses some of that Geffen era Sonic Youth discordance-meets-pop nous, and although the feral blast of 'You're A Dog' is absent, there's plenty of edge in the vocals and brooding guitars to ensure that things never get too comfortable.

The title track changes pace and embraces a more frantic style that dispatches with any notion of melody and insteads opts to steamroller everything under waves of fuzz. Fans of The Jesus Lizard or the Am Rep back catalogue will be undoubtedly impressed.

'Second One' toys with catch and release dynamics perfectly as it veers between playfully unhinged and unbridled feedback brutality (complete with Cobain howl).

It is perhaps the closing track, 'Handswaps', that is the highlight of 'France 98' however. A fairly linear journey in dynamics, it sees the band utilising drones and feedback to create unsettling undulating soundscapes. These apparently uncontrolled outbursts are held in place by an incessant (and entirely necessary) bass line; the calm at the eye of the storm.

What with the METZ album last year and the re-visiting of 'In Utero' on the horizon surely imminent, it seems likely that the alt-rock explosion (for want of a different terminology) of the late 80s and early 90s will be picked over constantly for the foreseeable future. While everyone else is looking back, hopefully Girl Band can begin to move things forward.

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Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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