PRINCESS UGLY

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   I remember reviewing this Portland, OR anomaly’s 2005 debut We Knew It Was Perfect in issue 60, when they were a gentle shoegaze trio, comparing them to a “Rema Rema or 1980 Cure fronted by Reg Presley of The Troggs”— adding that singer/leader J. Christopher-Rome bore a large aural resemblance! Six years and two albums on, Christopher-Rome and multi-instrumentalist Christopher Moncrieffe form a duo save for pretty backing vocals from Janelle Henderson (like Liz Fraser of Cocteau Twins), but they’re cartographing analogous terrain. Presley, I mean Christopher-Rome, slurps in a likeably creepy neo-whisper, while the looping guitar and drum patterns cast remarkably restrained ripples on the sonic surface. For LP four I’d turn up those dreampop guitars a lot, but it’s true this makes PU more unusual. Silent but deadly slowcore? Call it what you will. (princessugly.com)

 

Princess Ugly

It Should Be Clear By Now

(Drop Dead Ugly)

Jack Rabid (The Big Takeover Magazine)

 

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   For all the '78-'82 Brit post-punk, mod, and ska nostalgia bands, too few have revived an even more artistic, concurrent movement. That would be the moody guitar pop that seemed to spring out of The Cure's vanguard 17 Seconds into the early 4AD bands, lighter goth types, and Northern raincoat-wearing groups. All explored the power of guitar shivers without full-blaring sound, leading to its ultimate expression in later Cocteau Twins and American slowcore. Who thinks much of Rema Rema these days? Well this Portland trio's debut LP made me imagine Rema Rema or 1980 Cure fronted by Reg Presley of The Troggs. (Singer/leader J. Christopher-Rome bears a large aural resemblance!) Like the above, Rome's music isn't loud... but it sure isn't gentle. It's intensity lies just below the surface. This is a barely restrained, new strain of dreampop!

 

Jack Rabid

The Big Takeover

Issue 60, May 2007, Pg 148

 

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   Princess Ugly's brand of moody, stony pop hearkens back to the early '90s brilliance of groups like Catherine Wheel and Slowdive, with fuzzy strums, slowly screeching guitars, and enough effects pedals to make everything just a little bit numb. Given J. Christopher-Rome's drawling sneer of a vocal style, it's hard not to make comparisons to Jesus And Mary Chain on opening song "Reasons Don't Know" and the subtle but sad "Take Everything And Leave," while "Sick" injects things with just enough of a psychedelic groove to bring to mind a more bummed out Stone Roses. "Bad Day" is unexpectedly pleasant in purely musical terms, more like a couple of painkillers taken for recreational purposes than to dull emotional agony, but the vaguely cheery pop guitars and dreamy female background vocals bely such blatantly depressive lyrics as "Today was a bad day / I wanted to stick a knife into my head." "Lock You Into Me," on the other hand, is about as close as Princess Ugly comes to a love song, and coincidentally sees the band at their most dissonant, with slow, metallic-sounding percussion and a mixture of clean and overdriven guitar strums that recalls Daniel Ash's work in late-period Bauhaus and early-period Love And Rockets. There's a mixture of blissed out arrangements and faintly sinister attitude on this CD that's a rarity in today's overly pretty shoegazer scene, and it gives Princess Ugly's songs a wonderful level of depth. Pick this one up if you're into the classic 4AD bands, not to mention Mazzy Star and Jesus And Mary Chain.

 

REVIEWER: Matthew J./Grave Concerns Ezine, July 2007

www.graveconcernsezine.com

 

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   Gut-wrenching vocals, shoegazing guitars, and lush soundscapes drip like liquid from the pores of “We Knew It Was Perfect”. Princess Ugly is a trippy alternative indie pop group. Utilizing gothic undertones, Princess Ugly manufactures stirring melodies and downtempo rhythms. Not the most uplifting thing in the world, but sometimes music is supposed to bring you down or keep you down.

 

- J-Sin www.smother.net, March 2007

 

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   (3 out of 5 stars)

 

   Princess Ugly employ spacious shoegazer licks, indie-pop melodies, and post-punk malaise to provide a soundtrack for hip coffee shops nation-wide.

 

This charmingly disheveled debut offers rainy day nu-gaze for nostalgic 30-somethings and bright-eyed trend-hoppers alike. We Knew It Was Perfect recalls the early '90s alternative rock heyday, back when the term "alternative" actually meant something. Fuzzy guitar riffs softly weave around a tinny drum loop on "Thin," the album's first notable track. J. Christopher-Rome fills the role of lead vocalist with a gravelly monotone croak reminiscent of Love and Rockets' Daniel Ash. [...]Jayme Blackburn saves the day with richly drawn ethereal sighs that play nicely against his youthful snarl, adding much-needed texture to the material. Potential single "Sick" exudes woozy, lump-in-your-throat atmosphere, pinned down by a head-bobbing hipster shuffle. The tone of the album is mostly downcast, but never wallows for too long, periodically injecting dusky balladry with a twee shot in the arm. "Hey Why Don't You" provides a welcome respite from the mope-fest with its perky percussion and syrupy pop chorus. [...] Any one of these songs would be a perfect addition to a romantic mix tape, if such a thing still existed. One thing is certain: there's always a demand for mature songcraft and Princess Ugly has the raw goods to deliver.

 

By: Sarah Masear

www.regenmag.com

 

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   What we have here are ten tracks of brooding, melancholy indie-pop, highly evocative stuff rooted in pre-LOVELESS shoegazer dreaminess and executed with sparse but catchy arrangements built around simple drumming, brooding keyboards, and subdued vocals filled with yearning. This is throwback to the era of bands like Sebadoh, the Magnetic Fields, Heavenly, early Liz Phair, and even early Love and Rockets -- simple but well-arranged music, probably recorded in a darkened bedroom, designed to reflect the confusion and desire of the young in a cold and detached world oblivious to their hopes and needs. This is homegrown twee-pop that works best on the downbeat songs with the dreamy, gauzy sound, where they successfully evoke the sound of fragile souls too defeated to do more than stare at their feet (they call it "shoegazer" music for a reason, you know). The production is somewhat lo-fi, but that's okay -- this is bedroom music, the kind of sound lo-fi was designed to capture, with the kind of private and confessional feeling that tends to evaporate in the confines of a professional studio. The rhyhmic bedrock is minimal but effective, with haunting melodies and smart choices about the use of incidental sounds and instruments from track to track. Even the uptempo tracks are beautifully depressed, and the blissed-out guitar fuzz is dark enough to always keep the dream hovering on the edge of a nightmare. Fans of all that is bleak yet beautiful about dreamy shoegazer pop would be well advised to investigate.

 

The One True Dead Angel

May, 2007

http://theonetruedeadangel.blogspot.com

 

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