My most recent record is a band that’s truly near and dear to my heart; they’re some of the tightest members of my Band Mom family and one of my all-time favorite bands. I’ve been working closely with Girls in Trouble since they released their first album in 2009, and they’ve been really important people/musicians to me ever since. The music of this Portland (previously Brooklyn) band is amazing: hold-your-breath-gorgeous violin-based indie-folk/indie-pop arrangements with a remarkable lady singer (/songwriter/violinist/professional poet). And there’s more to it if you pay any amount of attention to lyrics, as well: each song is a story, and each story is told from the perspective of a different woman from Jewish mythology (mostly from the Old Testament of the Bible). But don’t take that to mean this is some niche religious band: I mean, think about it, even just telling these stories from the perspective of the lady is a pretty intensely feminist, progressive move. Y’know? Their lyrics AND their music are an amazing meeting of ancient and modern, traditional and subversive. Now’s the time time to make sure Girls in Trouble is through your review processes, on yr shelves, spinning in yr rotations, and starting to make its way onto yr charts!!
GIRLS IN TROUBLE
OPEN THE GROUND
Ancient stories of love, sex, betrayal and inheritance come to life in surprisingly intimate songs ranging from old-timey ballads to indie-pop. This is Open the Ground: Girls in Trouble’s third release of beautiful orchestral indie-folk about the complicated lives of Biblical women.
This is music for people who like stories. It is also for music for people who like beauty, and mystery, and contradiction. Its intersection of faith with feminism, of chamber music with rock, is both traditional and subversive, both ancient and contemporary. It’s an exquisite, transcendent portrait of the fullness of what it means to be a woman, Biblical or otherwise.
Bandleader Alicia Jo Rabins combines her background in poetry, music and Jewish studies to create this episode of the band’s original song cycle. Inspired by bold, honest storyteller-songwriters such as Leonard Cohen and Nina Nastasia, Rabins investigates the hidden places where these women’s complicated lives overlap with hers. She has been known to perform her uniquely moving orchestral art-pop outfitted with a full band, or solo in more intimate settings with nothing but a loop pedal, a style which has drawn comparisons to Owen Pallett and Andrew Bird.
Rabins creates the lyrics, music, and performances of violin, viola and voice for the project, in partnership with her husband, bassist Aaron Hartman of Old Time Relijun (K Records). Open the Ground was recorded in Portland, OR, at Type Foundry Studios, co-produced and mixed by Karl Blau. A cast of Portland’s most notable musicians played supporting roles, including Sara Lund (Unwound) on drums, Mike Clark (Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks) on keys, and Colette Alexander (Angelique Kidjo) on cello. The artwork arrives via Portland artist/drummer Julianna Bright, cementing this project as the band’s first distinctly Portland and DIY entry into their saga after two prior albums (2009’s self-titled and 2011’s Half You Half Me) recorded in Brooklyn and released on NYC’s JDub Records.
Rabins’ writing has always been intimately concerned with the oft-ignored dramas of the women of her faith’s lore. Recording this album, seven months pregnant with her second child, tales of Biblical mothers began to resonate more deeply than ever. Consider “River So Wide”, where Abraham’s wife Sarah reflects on his sacrifice of their son, Isaac, not knowing that he’d actually been rescued; or title track “Open the Ground”, where Eve contemplates her culpability in her son Cain’s murder of his brother Abel; or “Arrow and Bow”, about Hagar, Abraham’s concubine and mother of Ishmael.
This album is just one of Rabins’ many outlets for expression of those themes and subjects closest to her heart. She is also known to many as a mother, a Torah scholar, a rock-opera showrunner (2012-14’s “A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff”) and a prize-winning poet: her first full-length book of poetry, Divinity School, was recently awarded the prestigious American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize and will be published in September 2015: a near-simultaneous release with this album.
“Her plucked violin and gorgeous voice could be a Jewish ‘Silent Night.'”—New York Times Magazine
RIYL: Mirah, Owen Pallett, Andrew Bird, Regina Spektor, Karl Blau, Led to Sea,
Laura Veirs, The Mountain Goats, Joanna Newsom
Start With: 4, 1, 6, 7 FCC CLEAN
ALICIA JO RABINS / GIRLS IN TROUBLE FALL 2015 TOUR DATES:
September 29 – Seattle, WA – Book launch reading @ Hugo House
October 10 – Berkeley, CA – Girls in Trouble release show @ Urban Adamah
October 21 – Centralia, WA – Q&A/Girls in Trouble show/poetry reading @ Centralia College
October 25 – Portland, OR – Portland book launch reading! @ Powell’s on Hawthorne
November 9 – Salem, OR – Book launch reading @ Willamette University
November 14 – Brooklyn, NY – Girls in Trouble release show @ The Living Room
November 16 – Cambridge, MA – Book launch reading + songs @ Harvard University
November 22 – Baltimore, MD – Book launch reading @ The Ivy Bookshop
February 11 – Miami, FL – Book launch reading @ Books & Books
Contact me for a download link if you’re a radio rep!