Mindbending Originality: Rarities 2007-2010 by Women album review by Adam Fink for Northern Transmissions

Jagjaguwar/Flemish Eye

8

Women

Rarities 2007 - 2010

There are certain bands that, whether you hear about them or not, capture a distinct moment in time. Their legacy imprinting an influence on many, sometimes even more well known, acts for years to come. One of these bands was Women. The Calgary, Alberta based four piece put out only two records, the Chad Vangaalen produced 2008 self titled debut and 2010’s Public Strain. Despite this limited output the band was critically celebrated during their short run, touring all over the world to rapt audiences before breaking up just months after the release of Public Strain. Now a decade on and with that record widely and rightly lauded as a seminal piece of work, Jagjaguwar and Flemish Eye are releasing a special anniversary edition and with it an intriguing look into the bands creative practice.

There are certain bands that, whether you hear about them or not, capture a distinct moment in time. Their legacy imprinting an influence on many, sometimes even more well known, acts for years to come. One of these bands was Women. The Calgary, Alberta based four piece put out only two records, the Chad Vangaalen produced 2008 self titled debut and 2010’s Public Strain. Despite this limited output the band was critically celebrated during their short run, touring all over the world to rapt audiences before breaking up just months after the release of Public Strain. Now a decade on and with that record widely and rightly lauded as a seminal piece of work, Jagjaguwar and Flemish Eye are releasing a special anniversary edition and with it an intriguing look into the bands creative practice. Rarities 2007 – 2010 is a wonderful companion piece to Public Strain’s reemergence. Made up of tracks that had previously never come out and a handful that did but were a little harder to find, this collection contains just five songs but each offer a glimpse into Women’s process. Each song is an extension of the tracks we’ve all come to know and love over the years with the band’s signature caustic, chiming, strained guitars, bobbing, bubbling bass lines and lead vocalist Patrick Fiegal’s wry yet sunny melodic sensibility. As a part of the legacy of Women, the record is undeniable but also holds up wonderfully as a stand alone piece of work.

Off the top, it’s great to hear the band again. There was definitely something special about these four musicians in a room and when “Everyone Says I Love You” begins with it’s bowed cello part, tambourine taking care of the backbeat and the monotone vocals buried in a sea of delay, it is wonderful. Defiantly coming from the same world that their more acerbic and biting songs hail but tempered with a new and very special intensity and hue. “Service Animal” is carried by a disheveled post punk anxiety mixed in with a Kinks-esque charm and “Grey Skies” is a bittersweet and buoyant number trading in some of the earlier tracks restlessness for a more patient sense of wonder. “Bullfight” sounds like its drums were recorded in the biggest and deepest cave the band could possibly find and the stabbing guitars that punctuate the walking bass before the vocals kick in are absolute bliss.

After being able to deep dive into their catalog and this companion piece, it is such a shame that we never got to experience more from this great band but it also gives us a sense that what we were able to, was something exceedingly rare. There is a sense of beauty and awe that reverberates through all these songs, made with a genuine sense of love from four talented souls. While it may not have been for a long time, it’s nice to hear that what they did together has left a wonderfully distinct and stunning legacy for those of us that weren’t lucky enough to catch it the first time around.