Ears Wide Open: Strange Babes



The rapturously catchy jangle-pop of L.A.-based Strange Babes is informed by several dualities. The songs were co-written by Sam McCarthy and Jaden Parkes, onetime bandmates in New Zealand’s Goodnight Nurse – whose lead singer, Joel Little, went on to produce and write for McCarthy’s next band, Kids of 88, and Lorde. Half the songs were written in New Zealand’s winter, half in Los Angeles’ summer. And the resulting full-length, “Strange Babes” (release date to be announced), sounds like the happy marriage of the best of the Flying Nun Records crew to the Byrds’ southern California progeny. And nobody sounds more surprised to have put the synth-pop of Kids of 88 behind him than McCarthy himself. “What’s most strange is that I come from a mostly electronic background, [and] from all the techno I listen to I’m somewhat surprised that I managed to churn out a strictly rock ’n’ roll record,” he said. “I guess that’s the nature of wanting to write good songs; the priority of production seems to slip away and it’s all about making room for the melodies and lyrics.” The singer-guitarist has assembled a transcontinental quintet to play the songs live – fellow Kiwis Maddie North and Leroy Clampitt are joined by Angelenos Wade Ryff and Lucas Ventura (both of Races, among others) in the lineup, which will tour later this year with the Naked and Famous. Fans of the ’60s California sound, Kiwi pop and even British C86ers will love it. Strange, maybe, but definitely wonderful.

||| Stream: “Holiday”

||| Live: Strange Babes play Wednesday at the Satellite.