In 2018, you have to be pretty ballsy to call your new album Girls Girls Girls. It is, after all, already firmly cemented in rock lore. Well, if there’s anyone ballsy enough to do it, get away with it and stake their own claim to it, it’s Miesha and the Spanks.
The Calgary guitar-and-drum duo of front woman-guitarist Miesha Louie and drummer Sean Hamilton own it ferociously, emphatically and completely on their new 10-track release — a fast, nasty, sexy slab of riff-fuelled Runaways rock clad in spit-polished black leather and bursting with sass and singalong swagger.
The record marks a new phase and a great leap forward in the career of Miesha, who has over the past decade released three other full-lengths and a number of EPs and singles, touring relentlessly, sharing the stage and holding her own with such notables as Queens of the Stone Age, Bison BC, Death From Above 1979, The Pack A.D. and Hot Hot Heat.
It’s the first album recorded together with Hamilton and the follow-up to her 2013 release Girls, Like Wolves, which was recorded with Canadian indie rock legend Ian Blurton and took her to a whole new level.
The production of Girls Girls Girls does likewise and has its own legend attached: Danny Farrant from U.K. punk pioneers the Buzzcocks, whom she forged a relationship with when his band performed in Calgary for the 2011 Sled Island festival.
It was recorded in the middle of a lengthy 2017 Canadian tour, over a 10-day period in the English seaside resort of Brighton. But far from a relaxing beach vacation, the duo spent 10-12 hours each day in the studio with Farrant, pulling apart and reworking the tunes they’d brought with them from across the pond.
“Working with Danny was great because he has this whole other level of experience in music — from being a member of the Buzzcocks, but also as a writer-producer with his partner Paul Rawson, who also produced the album,” says Miesha. “Bringing my songs to them for feedback, not only to polish the songs but to develop them, was one of the most exciting things about it. They were in our songs with us.”
As for those songs, they run the gamut of thudding, chugging opening cut First Love First Blood to the sizzling, jukebox c’mon of Motorin’, the cool, late night vibe of Lost Boy, the sweet, breezy, dreamy, closer Summer Love and the bounce, bop and doo-wop of soaring first single Atmosphere.
It makes wonderful use of the “chemistry and connection” Louie and Hamilton have forged over the past two years, turning that into a singular, inarguable energy that confidently knows when to go hard and when to show that necessary restraint.
And underscoring the maturation of the sound, is a new lyrical approach for Louie, one that she admits is less inward looking and about affairs of the heart than previous releases.
“Some of them are my stories and some of them are my opinions, watching life in general,” she says. “They’re still my experiences but not necessarily my personal stories any more.”
And back to that title.
When asked whether or not it’s an attempt to reclaim it from the hairband brigade of days of yore, Miesha admits her intentions were slightly less grandiose than that.
“It was just a fleeting idea I had forever ago when the band was two girls,” she says of a past incarnation of the duo, where it was initially used as a hashtag to announce themselves- later becoming more of a celebration of the strong females in her community.
“The more my life became filled with women, cool women in bands, I felt pushed towards it. Where I used to be one of the only girls in the music scene, now all of a sudden my life is filled with girls who have the same interests as me. I liked that it was happening and I wanted to encourage it.”
She smiles. “More girls.”