Colleen Green – The Green Door Store – 23rd September 2016

In its own way, Cassie Ramone’s previous band Vivian Girls was quietly influential. Their combining of lo-fi noise rock aesthetics with the melodies and harmonies of 60s girl groups can still be felt today in acts such as Best Coast and Bleached. Performing her solo project, an element of the carefree slackerdom that defined that project is still here. She asks the crowd to sit down as it’ll be much more enjoyable. But it’s masked in a woozy, lo-fi psychedlia instead. Perched atop her amp with nothing but an acoustic guitar caked in swirling effects, her simple open chord folk songs take on the effect on an eastern drone. Psychedlic folk is a rich vein to explore but unfortunately Cassie Ramone’s music doesn’t fully mine the potential enough. The melodies just aren’t there and without other voices to carry her like in her work with Vivian Girls, her own vocals suffer from their laid back and half-trying presentation. They often sound flat and sometimes just completely out of tune.

Likewise, Colleen Green is the lone figure on stage for her performance. Her backing band is nothing but a rudimentary drum and bass backing track which she has to awkwardly bend down to start and stop in between songs. Why Colleen Green is playing with just a backing track – where a band could perform the task easily and much more effectively – isn’t entirely obvious. Whether it’s an aesthetic statement or merely a cost effective way to tour. On initial impressions, the evening is setting itself up for a flat and un-dynamic performance. But once the sound is turned up thanks to much protestation from the crowd, somehow she transcends the self-imposed limitations, largely through the sheer quality of the songwriting and her unflinching confidence that all you need for a great pop song is the bare bone components of a handful of bar chords and a strong hook.

Possibly the only human being able to pull off wearing sunglasses indoors and looking cool as fuck while doing it, she exuberates cool while also poking fun at such pretensions. The reason Green’s slacker attitude succeeds where Ramone’s is easily forgetful is the stark contrast between the precise upbeat melodies, her seemingly innocuous subject matters (such as singing about wanting to be a taxi driver) and the darker undercurrents of anxiety and uncertainty that underpin them.

She ends on ‘TV’ a song that on its surface is a purposefully frivolous account of chilling out in front of the idiot box. But buried beneath the surface is a darker undertone: “I feel a real connection when my TV’s on / and it’s the truest one / that I’ll ever make”. Her songs are at once celebrations of idleness but the nagging feeling in the back of your mind that you should be something more worthwhile with your time is also present.

With each song being met with a warmer reception than the last and the crowd slowly warming up as the performance progresses, she eventually wins the crowd around entirely. Still, the feeling lingers that we’ve been denied a great show, when what we got instead was just a really, really good one.

Louis Ormesher